Zack Golditch was part of a tragedy, but it will not define him.
A junior offensive tackle for the Colorado State football team, Golditch was about to enter his senior year at Gateway High in Aurora, Colo., when he caught a midnight showing of “The Dark Knight Rises” on July 20, 2012, at the Century 16 cinema in his hometown.
In an adjacent theater, James Holmes opened fire on the audience, killing 12 people. A bullet fragment passed through the wall and hit Golditch in the neck. It went through from one side to the other but missed causing major damage.
“Heard a couple pops to my right, saw someone bleeding from their arm, before I turned back, something hit me, my ears were ringing,” Golditch said. “... I just started panicking because I didn’t know what was happening.”
Premium content for only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
After calling 911 and being treated at a local hospital, Golditch found out about the extent of what had happened and tried to come to grips with how that might have even been possible, how lucky he was to survive. It also gave him a new motivation.
“I saw the outreach, how people treated me and wanted to help,” Golditch said. “I thought, ‘Why don’t I go out and try to do this for somebody else?’ It’s the littlest things, even a supportive message, it made my day.
“I feel like it would be selfish if I didn’t try to do something positive out of what happened.”
Golditch received the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl Humanitarian Award for his community service work. It has included Boys & Girls Club events, volunteering at Respite Care, which helps children with developmental disabilities, and spending a day this summer spent a day in a Denver burn unit and at Children’s Hospital with coach Mike Bobo.
“My parents, my high school coach (Justin Hoffman), coach Bobo, they all have always stressed character, treat people how you’d like to be treated,” Golditch said. “You see those kids, how they can be so positive and welcoming despite what they might be going through, that’s worth it.”
When Holmes was convicted and sentenced to life in prison last July, among two separate counts was a second-degree attempted murder related to the injuries suffered by Golditch and two others.
On the field, Golditch has started all 12 games this season after starting 12 as a sophomore. He’s part of an offensive line that has helped the Rams average 47.4 points per game in their past five games.
“Being part of a unit like this, doing some big things and to be able to say I’m really contribute is a great feeling,” Golditch said.
Idaho junior wide receiver Jacob Sannon was the Vandals’ Humanitarian Award winner. He has helped with the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee’s Christmas For Kids, which includes fundraising and shopping, wrapping and delivering gifts, National Walk To School Day; Trick or Treat With The Vandals, the annual Palouse Cares Food Drive, Relay for Life and the Vandals’ Pen Pal program.
Handful of Idaho players thrilled to be playing in Boise again
Idaho center Steven Matlock has experience on the blue field at Albertsons Stadium. The Capital High graduate’s recruiting tape prominently featured it.
“I have a lot of memories. My sophomore and junior highlight tapes are on the blue,” Matlock said. “I love playing here.”
Matlock is one of eight players on the Idaho football team from the Treasure Valley, alond with fullback Luke Hyde (Emmett), linebacker Tarik Littlejohn (Capital), safety Jack Tate (Timberline), fullback Brady Strodtbeck (Timberline), long snapper Brett Ballard (Eagle), offensive lineman Conner Vrba (Rocky Mountain) and offensive lineman Brett Carter (Mountain View).
Considering this will be his last collegiate game, Matlock couldn’t have asked for more.
“I never thought we’d be where we are today. … It’s really rewarding,” Matlock said. “To come down here and finish off my last collegiate football game is unbelievable.”
Tackling drills key
Though the Potato Bowl is just days away, Idaho head coach Paul Petrino amped up the physicality in the team’s first practice in Boise. The Vandals did live tackling in a portion of Monday’s practice.
“I think, sometimes in a bowl game, it comes down to who can tackle the best,” Petrino said. “I was really happy with practice today. I thought our guys had a great passion.”
Petrino spoke highly of Colorado State after Monday’s practice, citing its physicality on both sides of the ball. Idaho wants to make sure it keeps its edge.
“They’re real physical. If you had to say one word about them, it would be ‘physical,’ ” Petrino said. “(But) we’ve had enough time that we should know what we’re doing. It’s just who executes better. Either they do or we do.”
Vandals enjoy gift suite
Christmas came early for Matlock and his Idaho teammates.
The Vandals, playing in their first bowl game since 2009, arrived in Boise on Sunday for their Dec. 22 Potato Bowl matchup with Colorado State.
The first order of business? The gift suite.
“I got the Fossil watch along with a kind of personalized blender,” Matlock said. “And a portable charger.”
The gifts for the Potato Bowl included the gift suite, an Oakley backpack, a beanie, a football and a pair of Proof Eyewear sunglasses.
Famous Idaho Potato Bowl
- Teams: Idaho (8-4, 6-2 Sun Belt) vs. Colorado State (7-5, 5-3 Mountain West)
- Time: 5 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 22
- Where: Albertsons Stadium (36,387, FieldTurf), Boise
- TV: ESPN (David Neal, Matt Stinchcomb, Oliuvia Harlan)
- Radio: 630 AM
- Tickets: Available at ticketmaster.com
- Vegas: Colorado State by 13 1/2
- Coaches: Idaho, Paul Petrino (fourth year; 14-33); Colorado State, Mike Bobo (second year; 14-11)
- Bowl records: Idaho 2-0, Colorado State 6-9
- Series record: Colorado State leads 4-3