With one right hook to her face, Amelia Molitor's life changed. The girl who'd grown up a Sooner through and through - whose family had been Oklahoma season ticket-holders growing up, had matriculated to the only school she ever dreamed of attending. She'd been an active participating in the Oklahoma University community, joining clubs, attending sporting events, and working to help pay her way through.
One night in Norman, a nice, although maybe not ideal college life was interrupted. Some words. A shove. And ultimately a punch that's still reverberating.
Amelia lay prone on the floor of a place called Pickleman's, her famous football-playing assailant having long since bailed, friends and onlookers trying to help and comfort, and her face in a mangled mess of broken jaw and cheek bones.
From there, things got worse. Physically. Eight hours of surgery. A jaw wired shut for weeks. A steady liquid diet. Numbness in her face for six months.
Emotionally. Her Twitter and Facebook accounts were deleted. Too much harassment. Her phone number had to be changed. It'd be shared on Sooner message boards. She quit her job. Too many people. Too many reporters.
She returned to class, mere weeks after being knocked down out. Bravely. Courageously. But still the attention. The dread. Walks across campus while enduring looks from strangers. The snide comments from students when she'd slump down in a lecture hall seat, her jaw wired shut and her voice rendered silent.
Ameila isolated herself, withdrawing from campus organizations, never socializing, and finally taking a job that guaranteed that she could work alone. Eventually, her friends would coax her out of her shell, although only when it was just the girls, though. Amelia couldn't trust men enough to even get close.
Forget football. The girl who bled crimson and cream - who as a young child had begged her family to take a trip to see the Sooners in a bowl game - couldn't bear to even watch, much less go see them in person. Season tickets were relinquished. Plans for her little brother to join big sis at the same school were scrapped.
And yet, she stayed with it.. The famous football player who knocked her out, his defense attorneys that tried to smear her in the name of his defense, the OU fans who'd take to aiwaves and keyboard to blame the victim, they couldn't deter her. Try as they might, and as tempting as quitting often was, Amelia stayed in school.
She didn't just stay, despite the pleas of family and friends to transfer elsewhere, she thrived. Quietly, but doggedly. Her grade-point-average never dipped below a 3.3, and she found a focus on academics that throughout her young life, she'd never really had. Time passed, and she emerged from her shell. She starting working again in the service industry, tending bar to customers who she'd overhear talking about that night she'd taken that punch. Her friends found her more often, and even some teammates of the guy whose fist had made her infamous started to reach out.
Eventually, graduation would approach, but not without having to revisit the incident a few more times. A video of the punch was released. More trolls hid behind their keyboards. More lawyers tried to misdirect blame.
Yet some 29 months after she found herself on the floor of a place called Pickleman's Cafe, a woman who had to rearrange her life at an age that was way too young in a forum that was way too public was now being referred to as outgoing and confident, and Amelia Molitor was being awarded a diploma, having earned - in every sense of the word - a dual degree in philosophy and human relations.
Ameila Molitor's plans include the University of Denver's School of Graduate Studies, and she says hopes to start her own nonprofit organization, focused on abused women and children abroad.
The guy who punched her will play for the Cincinnati Bengals this fall.
(Note: Information from this NewsOK.com profile of Amelia Molitor was exceptionally helpful in writing this entry.)