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Zack Golditch: From Aurora Shooting Survivor to Chargers Rookie

I've talked about it so much (that) it's getting easier to talk about.  It's easier because I didn't see all the chaos.  I just saw and remember what happened to me.

It's been nearly six years since Zack Golditch was shot while watching "The Dark Knight Rises" in Aurora, Colorado, but the memories remain vivid.

What was supposed to be a night of fun for the offensive lineman and four of his friends turned into hysteria.  They were watching the film near the front of Theater 8, adjacent to Theater 9, where the gunman originally opened fire.

That was when a bullet went through the wall from Theater 9 into Theater 8, striking Golditch in the neck.  He was one of 70 people injured in the shooting that claimed 12 lives.

A Colorado native, Golditch had committed to play football at Colorado State a little over a month prior to that fateful day.  But the game he loved was put on hold.  His recovery caused him to miss three to four weeks of practice in advance of his senior season at Gateway High School.

"It was a waiting game," Golditch said.  "I was trying to get back to football, but they were telling me I needed to heal because of the location of the injury.  It took some time, but I think it healed up nicely and as quickly as it could."

Once recovered, Golditch returned with a new outlook on the game.  More importantly, it gave him a new perspective on life.  The 2013 National Football Foundation Inspiration Award winner says he tries to appreciate the little things more; the weather, the trees, the conversations.  Things most people may not value, but things that were almost taken away from him back in 2012.

"I think everybody who goes through a near-death experience has a different outlook on life and a new appreciation," he said.  "They don't take things for granted.  They tell people they love them.  That applies to my life right now.  I think it made me a more humble person.  It made me someone who takes advantage of every opportunity, and that has kind of led me to where I am now."

Right now, Golditch is an undrafted rookie free agent vying for a spot on the Chargers' 53-man roster come opening day.  Getting a call to join the Bolts after the draft was indescribable, and taking the field for the first day of rookie minicamp was equally hard to put into words.

"Besides going through what I've been though, to even get to this point is unbelievable.  Even though I was wearing a Chargers helmet today, I really still can't believe that I'm here.  I think going through what I've gone through just adds something great to the story.  When it's all said and done, I want it to be, 'Zack did this, and he did this, and he did this.'  I just want to continue the 'ands,' so it's just not one thing that people remember me for."

While he's grateful to the Chargers for giving him a chance, Golditch knows this is just the beginning.  He's approaching the rest of rookie minicamp with the same outlook as the day he arrived, hoping to turn the game he calls his escape, the game he's leaned on, into his full-time profession. 

"Since I got the call, people were saying, 'Zack, you made it!' or 'Congrats, man!'  I've been telling people, to a degree, yes, but I've simply just put my foot in the door and now I have to make my way to the table.  There's no point standing at the front door while everyone's eating.  I hope (this is) my first job out of college because it would be an amazing opportunity.  Not only for me, but for my family and when I get old and have a family, for my kids.  To just be some type of role model.  Being able to get a job here will help me become the person I want to become."

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