American Ninja Warrior is well-known for bringing us inspiring stories that tug at the heart. However, you can’t help but smile at the story of Bootie Cothran. He began his Ninja career back in season five, where he made an early exit in the Miami Qualifiers. He returned in seasons seven and eight with similar results. But Bootie doesn’t give up. He kept training harder and harder. In season nine, he made it to the Daytona City Finals.
For season 10, he doubled down even more, training with the Furman University football team. He charged the Miami Qualifiers course and hit his first buzzer. Back for the City Finals, he repeated his performance on the front part of the course and finally got a first-hand look at the back half. Bootie took down the Salmon Ladder before struggling on the Crazy Clocks. He hit the water and came up so proud of himself.
Bootie didn’t realize he was in for another surprise. During his sideline interview with Kristine Leahy, she confirmed that he’d made it far enough, fast enough for his very first trip to the National Finals. After all his years of work and perseverance, Bootie had made it into the top 15 and will be joining the other elites in Las Vegas.
We had the chance to spend a little time with Bootie before he ran the Miami courses. He told us more about what it’s like to stay focused on reaching his goals.
“I think, like most Ninjas, balance obstacles make me nervous, man. Anything can go wrong. You never know how it’s going to respond until you actually step on it, put your weight on it. Fortunately, I’m so light weight I can get away with a lot. More than I think most people on a balance obstacle.”
“I’m usually pretty focused on the obstacle at hand. I’m not thinking ahead. There’ll be time to get to that obstacle when I get there. If I think ahead that only thing it will do is distract me and help me not get to that obstacle.”
“I’ve always tried to stay healthy and stay fit. Ninja Warrior put a little extra boost in that. I guess its still all about health and fitness for me. At the end of the day I’m a happy, optimistic, energetic person regardless. Ninja Warrior just boosts that.
Having interactions with fans, working with kids at elementary schools, fitness and stuff like that. The opportunities to be able to do stuff like that just blows my mind. It encourages me to keep going.”
“You can’t do anything unless you believe in yourself. Or have the mental fortitude to even try.
Being 49 years old, I like to think I have a little experience and wisdom behind life. I think my focus is very good. I try not to let things distract me. I think I’m very good at being able to focus on the task at hand.
The kind of work that I do, computer work, trouble-shooting, audio and video kind of work, it’s kind of under the gun. You’re at an event, you’re working sound, or you’re working video and something goes wrong and you’ve got to figure out the solution under pressure. It’s very similar. Ninja Warrior helps that. And that helps me and my mental focus on Ninja Warrior as well. Being able not to panic and focus on the task I’m doing to get the problem solved.”
“I expect to hit the button. As many as I can get to. I feel really good about the course. I’ve been working with a personal trainer for the past few months. It’s really put me in a state where I feel in a lot better condition than I’ve ever been. A lot better prepared. I like the course that’s out there. I’m looking forward to getting on it and I feel like, maybe this is Bootie’s break out.”
Well, Bootie was right, he did reach a buzzer and it was his breakout! He’ll have a shot at another buzzer in a few weeks when the National Finals begin on August 27!