But for his great sense of humor, Mike Sola might be curled up in the fetal position crying right now.
The 50-year-old former weatherman for WILL-TV and, before that, WCIA-TV, is among the latest in a growing list of white men in town being slugged for sport by young black men. (Earlier reports indicated a slang term of “polar bear hunting” for these attacks, but police officials say that term is not evident in the recent attacks.)
The attacks seem to have been concentrated on campus during August but lately have been spreading across Champaign and have even included young white boys in city parks.
Sola said he decided to walk the couple of miles to his south central Champaign home Friday night after the game let out at Tommy Stewart Field behind Centennial High School.
He was near Jefferson Middle School on Crescent Drive about 9:30 p.m., one of several people leaving the game, when “out of the blue I feel something hit me in the back of the head.”
“It’s hard. It wasn’t a fist,” he said, adding that whatever struck him wrapped around to the front of his neck, causing it to bruise. Although stunned, his little bit of karate training sent him into a defensive mode.
“I go into a crouch, get a little bit of a defensive stance, reach out and grab somebody, and throw a punch. I hit somebody,” he said, adding he was peppering his assailants with a few well-chosen phrases of outrage.
He doesn’t know how many there were–he believes at least two–and couldn’t recognize them in the dark, but knows they were probably teens leaving the game just as he was.
Within seconds, police and other passers-by, including Central High School Principal Joe Williams, were helping Sola.