AURORA, Colo. (CBS4) – Sunday was a day for football across America, and those who tuned in to CBS prior to the start of the Super Bowl saw a moving story about a high school in Aurora that was deeply affected by last year’s movie theater shooting.
The story focused on Gateway High School and its football team in the season that followed the July 20 mass shooting at the Century 16 theater. It also gave paid tribute A.J. Boik, a graduate who was among the 12 killed in the mass shooting.
Boik fervently supported his school, and while he wasn’t an athlete on the football team, the coach described him as one of the “superfans.” Boik graduated from Gateway a month before he was killed.
“The second everything happened it was like taking sand and watching it fall through your fingers, and there was nothing I could do about it,” said Lasamoa Cross, Boik’s girlfriend who was with him in the theater that night.
Boik had proposed to Cross in the spring and the two were planning to get married after they both graduated.
“I planned my life with him. We were going to have three boys and a vineyard, and because of the act of one man I’ll never see what he looked like at the altar,” said Cross.
Gateway held a special tribute to Boik last fall. They gathered the school together and presented the first annual “A.J. Boik School Spirit Award” to Abdelaziz Benqadi — a member of the football team. Cross and Boik’s mom Theresa Hoover were there to meet Benqadi in the assembly.
“I miss him to pieces, but he changed the outlook of a lot of people in this school. I think he showed them how to live,” said Hoover.
Cross said in the months since the shooting she one thing that has helped her get through her pain is using the same pottery wheel Boik used in his Ceramics class.
“It was his outlet, out of this crazy, hectic world. So when I’m here and then I throw on his wheel it helps get through this very trying time.”
She also says the school and its football team has kept her inspired.
“I think of a student body of 1,700 students that are good and that are here to support each other. That definitely gets me by every day.”
Also featured in the CBS report was Zack Golditch, a senior on the football team who was shot in the neck but survived.
“It was really close to a lot of things,” Golditch said, describing the shot that wounded him. “If it would have hit me first instead of the gentleman above me, it would still have hit me but who knows where I would have been right now.”
Golditch got back on the field soon after leaving hospital and the 6-foot-5, 260-pound offensive lineman barely missed a beat at practice last summer. His team then went on to have a winning record, and he was honored as Homecoming King.
“The group of guys that we have here are pretty special,” Golditch said. “I’d do anything for those guys and I’m pretty sure they’d do the same for me.”
After December’s horrific school shooting in Newtown, Conn., students and staff at Gateway got together and posed with a banner saying AURORA (LOVES) NEWTOWN.
“You go through adversity through life. Nothing’s given to you easy. There’s always going to be struggles in your life and you’ve got to be able to get back up and move on,” said Benqadi.
“The biggest thing is to realize that it happened. To realize that ‘You are 19 years old. There’s tomorrow,” Cross said.
Golditch’s mom, who was also interviewed for the story, related a quote from her son shortly after the shooting.
“Mom, we can’t do anything about it. We can’t change it. So we have to move forward.”
RELATED: Zach Golditch Story Archive