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Rookie Lucas Reale: “When tragedy strikes, you don’t have to stay down”

He completed Stage One on the three-year anniversary of his father’s passing.

The following article discusses Lucas’ experience with his father’s suicide. If you’d like more information or help with this subject, we’ve included that information at the end.

At 19-years-old, Lucas Reale is one of the youngest people ever to compete on American Ninja Warrior. He’s a rookie on the show, but he’s certainly not new to Ninja Warrior. Lucas has been training for this moment for three years and has even tested the course before. He’s also a Ninja coach at TA Fitness in Weymouth, MA.

Lucas made it to the National Finals after competing in the Philadelphia region. He fell on the Lightning Bolts in the Qualifiers and then pushed through to the Captain’s Wheel in City Finals. On Stage One of the National Finals, Lucas made his way to his very first buzzer.

That moment was crucial for many reasons. As a rookie, as a 19-year-old, that buzzer signified a lot. But for Lucas, it was also deeply emotional. He ran Stage One on the three year anniversary of his father’s passing from suicide. Lucas broke down as he hit the buzzer.

We asked Lucas to tell us in his own words how his rookie season has gone and what this all means to him.

“My season has been amazing. Going from not being able to compete for two (more) years, to running the course made me so grateful and really helped me take in every moment rather than putting too much pressure on myself. Even though I had a few falls, I’ve had SO much fun on these courses and can’t wait to take on Stage Two!

I have been a super fan of Ninja Warrior for about 10 years! I used to watch the Japanese version Sasuke when I was like 10 years old and instantly got hooked! I had searched for a Ninja gym for a while but couldn’t find one near me until June of 2015. Ever since I found the gym, TA Fitness, I’ve been there non-stop! I even work and coach there full time now!

Drew Drechsel is someone who I’ve always looked up to since he, in my opinion, is the best of the best. I’ve also trained a lot with both Allyssa Beird and Dave Cavanagh, who have really pushed me to be the best that I can be. And lastly, I have to say Zach Day, one of the other 19 year olds to clear Stage One. I’ve watched him compete locally for the past 3 years and he is really one of the people who I think has the skill to make it all the way.”

“When I stepped up to the course in Philadelphia, I originally felt a little nervous, but as soon as I actually looked at the course all of that nervousness went away! Just the fact that I was there, competing on the course that I’ve dedicated so much of my time towards made me so happy and I really just took all of it in. I remember every second of my run and the only thing I’m bitter about was not getting a chance at that Mega Wall! Maybe next year...”

“I felt so relieved and proud when I realized that I was going to the National Finals. There are so many amazing athletes out there, that just making it on the show was an accomplishment for me, but to be able to compete with some of the best in the world in the National Finals was a huge honor for me.”

“Stage One was such a blast! Watching some veterans go out on the course was definitely a little daunting, but overall I was confident in my abilities and wasn’t too nervous about any of the obstacles in particular. My main worry was that I was going to make a silly mistake somewhere. When running any course, there isn’t a lot of room for error, so running Stage One I knew I just had to stay calm and do my best to not make a silly mistake!”

“When I hit the cargo net and looked at the clock, I knew I was going to hit a buzzer. I actually starting screaming to myself on the way up things like ‘No way!’, ‘Yes’, and ‘Let’s go!’ I was so excited I just couldn’t contain myself!”

“This whole experience has been very emotional for me. From the start, I knew that whatever happened, my family would be proud of me just for getting to where I was, but to be able to go out and perform to the best of my ability has been such an amazing experience. I’ve put a lot of training in to this and honestly, it’s really become my life. Being able to say that I competed, made it to the National Finals, and even cleared Stage One is something that I will be forever proud of. I really can’t thank the people who have been there supporting me enough. They’ve kept me grounded and motivated throughout this whole season and I’m so grateful to have had them all with me for this season!”

“I think the biggest thing I want people to take away from my run, is that when tragedy strikes, you don’t have to stay down. The people you have lost don’t want you to dwell on the sadness. They want you to move on with them in your thoughts and for you to be happy. My dad pushes me every day to be the best man I can be, because I know that’s what he wants for me. He wants me to live my life to its fullest and take in every moment I can, so that’s what I try to do! My dad isn’t gone, he lives on in me and everything that I do.”

Lucas is one of 30 Ninjas to clear the Stage One course this season. We’ll next see him on September 10 when he takes on Stage Two.

If you or anyone you know is considering suicide or self-harm or is anxious, depressed, upset, or needs to talk, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text the Crisis Text Line at 741-741. For international resources, here is a good place to begin.