When the dream became a reality: The day Centercourt Ninja Regional Director, Anthony DeFranco competed on the American Ninja Warrior Show.

 

It was a random Wednesday in Philadelphia. Wednesday May 27th, 2015 to be exact.

It was the day that I have been working toward for months: early morning cardio, late night pull-ups. The hard work never stopped to fulfill my dream of competing on American Ninja Warrior. I woke up feeling excited, nervous, scared, confused, and prepared.  My buddy and I, Greg Smith (Director of Ninja, Centercourt Lawrence), geared up to head to the course located at an abandoned power plant.

As Greg and I approached the course, the dream became a reality. We were here!  This is really happening! For the first time, I saw all of the athletes that I looked up to over the years on Ninja Warrior. We were all there for the same reason: to complete the course that lied in front of us.

TV and Competition: the producers must go over rules with all the ninjas before anybody runs. The rules are read to everyone in great detail with the raise of a hand signaling that the rules are understood. I raised my hand, the rules are done: it’s go-time!  

The last bit of light in the day passed and all the course lights were shining bright. The energy in the air was electric with the crowd cheering!  

I was number 52 in the run order and anxiety grew with every athlete walking onto the course. I knew that my time was closer with every competitor that hit the water or the buzzer. I began warming up which came to an abrupt halt at runner 48 with the 1am “lunch.” Finally, lunch was over and it was my time. The next five competitors are called out to the warmup area and my nerves spike.

My warmup was going well and I was mentally preparing for the course. I went through every single movement in my head over and over again. I probably mentally ran the course 50 times before I even stepped foot on the platform.

My name was called. I urgently stripped down to my competition gear and jogged over to the starting platform.

I am greeted by the producer who wishes me luck with a smile and a fist bump. I am called to start walking up the stairs and I am now on the starting platform. Standing there with this monstrous course in front of me, I took one last deep breath.

The countdown began. 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, and….

Crossing each step, I remember thinking that this was scary with there actually being water underneath. The rest of my run was a blur. I had so much adrenaline flowing that my body took over. I vaguely remember thinking of exactly what I had visualized during the warmups and I began to precisely check off the mental cues after completing each obstacle.

Before I knew it, the dismount from the fifth obstacle was all that lied in front of my ascent up the warped wall. I jumped off in excitement and ran to feel the glory of living out a childhood dream: hitting a buzzer on American Ninja Warrior!

Anthony DeFranco,
Regional Centercourt Ninja Director
Passionate Ninja Athlete