May 25 2019
Katelynn Johnson remembers a full soda bottle whizzing past her head shortly after Oregon's dramatic win over the Arizona Wildcats on Saturday, Ducks cheerleader
"We were waiting for the players to get off the field through this narrow opening, and we were cheering and waiting," the 21-year-old senior said Monday. "Stuff was flying in every direction, and the players were getting hit."
Then something struck her, said Johnson, a sociology major who plans to move to New York City to work as a model and a nanny when she graduates next spring.
"I thought, 'Ow, my head,'" she said, just as a University of Arizona police officer yelled at the cheerleaders to grab their stuff and move to the center of the field to get away from flying debris.
As Johnson moved, fellow cheerleader Nick Brown asked her if she was OK. "I guess I didn't look right."
Johnson collapsed on the field. Those around her said she was struck squarely in the head by a bottle of water. Technicians tended to Johnson for several minutes before she was taken away.
"There were many things -- water and other things -- being thrown down there," Oregon athletic director Mike Bellotti said.
Arizona coach Mike Stoops called Bellotti after the game to apologize and talked about the incident at his weekly news conference Monday.
"I thought that was a very class act; I appreciate it," Bellotti said.
Stoops, quoted in the Arizona Daily Star, said of the incident: "It was disturbing when you think about that. It can hurt somebody -- kill somebody, actually -- when people are throwing something like that from the stands."
The University of Arizona Police Department, which sent an officer to the hospital with Johnson, said the incident remains under investigation. Dana Guthrie, adviser for Oregon's cheerleader program and a former UO cheerleader, said opposing fans throwing things is all too common.
"I can remember seeing vodka bottles flying past me. ... It's scary," Guthrie said.
Johnson said she was in and out of consciousness and remembers little about the ambulance ride to the hospital, other than a paramedic telling her he was going to stick her with a needle.
Her first clear memory is of waking up in a hospital bed with her best friend, cheerleader Amanda Pflugrad, sitting next to her, talking on a cell phone.
Johnson had a CAT scan in the hospital, where she stayed most of the night and was diagnosed with a concussion. A doctor cleared her to make the 6 a.m. flight back to Eugene on Sunday.
"I feel a little better today," Johnson said in a telephone interview Monday. "I'm keeping the lights out, and I'm pretty sensitive to loud noises. Still have a little headache."
Johnson said she harbors no ill will toward the University of Arizona or its fans. Johnson said she received an outpouring of support and get-well wishes from Arizona fans via e-mail and on Facebook.
"Maybe this can be a turning point," Johnson said. "Safety is an issue -- every team should feel safe."
Johnson said she will take it easy the rest of the week. On Friday, she will take an "impact test" to see how she is recovering.
"They're going to put me on a treadmill, and then I have to take a test on a computer to see how I'm doing," she said.
She hopes to pass the doctor's test and be on the floor at McArthur Court on Saturday, when the Ducks men's basketball team takes on Montana State. Oh, and there's a little football game coming up a week from Thursday that Johnson said she absolutely will not miss.
"I think we can pull off a win against Oregon State," she said. "Going to the Rose Bowl my senior year would be a great way to finish college."