At the Minneapolis Qualifiers, Jenn Roder was there to remind us all that for some Ninjas, the biggest obstacles happen before the course. Jenn was diagnosed with thyroid cancer and had to face surgery and treatment. There for her every step of the way was her best friend and fellow Ninja Sarah Schoback, as well as the therapeutic aspects of focusing on Ninja training.
When Jenn got her chance on the course, she truly was just thankful to be there. After finishing the Floating Steps, she cried with joy. She struggled on the Double Twister, but when she landed the transfer, she cracked a huge smile. She fell on the Ring Jump, but left us all on our feet cheering for her.
We talked to Jenn before her run to find out more about what drove her to take on this challenge.
“Sarah Schoback inspired me. She opened her gym about two years ago and she’s my best friend. I wanted to go to support her and she invited me to try it out. I did and I got hooked.”
“About a year ago I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. I had surgery to have my thyroid removed. So during the recovery, being able to go to the gym and beat obstacles while I was recovering from this difficult surgery, was awesome. Having that in my life was great.”
“All the strong females who get out there and try it (inspire me). Even the ones that don’t go very far. Just to get out there and try is such an inspiration. Because it’s hard. And moms. If you’re a mom it’s really hard to find time to go to the gym and work out and pay attention to your family. Any moms that go out there and do this are just amazing.”
“Ninja Warrior has definitely helped in my recovery from surgery because being able to go to the gym and beat obstacles at the gym just inspired me in my daily life to keep working on recovering from my surgery. I had a lot of fatigue. It was probably the biggest thing that I dealt with. Knowing that I was able to go to gym and beat these obstacles, I could still go home and be in the recovery process from my surgery. That’s an everyday thing that goes on for me. It just helps to be able to physically go and beat an obstacle. It’s a good reminder that if I keep working hard on something that I will get better with time.”
“I would really love to get to City Finals. But I’m totally fine with whatever happens. I keep trying to remind myself that it’s just an honor to be here. It’s an honor to go through this experience and to step up on that platform to start. Whatever happens after that, I’m proud of myself. My family is proud of me. I know Sarah (Schoback) is proud of me. It’s just great to be here.”
In our opinion, Jenn gave us one of the best moments of the night when she completed the Double Twister. In one expression and sentence, she encapsulated what savoring the moment looks like.
Jenn calls herself the Iron Butterfly to reflect that she’s been through a transformation, but don’t for a second think that she’s fragile.
Thank you for letting us share your joy, Jenn!