The first season of American Ninja Warrior aired in December of 2009 and, as we know, just gained momentum since. While ANW may have started as a once-a-year competition, it has evolved into a year-round venture, a lifestyle, and a community.
There are four Ninjas who have been along for the entire 10-year ride: David Campbell, Lorin Ball, Ryan Stratis, and Brian Kretsch. Today, I went back through a conversation that Nikki had with Brian about what it’s been like. Here’s what he said:
“American Ninja Warrior is my life now. I literally have nothing else besides American Ninja Warrior,” he laughed. That’s something we hear from many of the top Ninjas, but how does he stay motivated day-in and day-out?
“I mean, I do still have a strong passion for competing and the goal that I have not reached of getting to the top of Midoriyama,” he explains. “That’s always been what I’ve strived to do in this sport. It’s never been about money, it’s never been about fame or TV time—it’s always about conquering the unconquerable.”
“It’s hard to really put into words just with how much of my life it has been. My entire adult life, coming right out of college, went into American Ninja Warrior and that’s all it’s been,” he continued.
Over the years, Brian has certainly seen many amazing runs and great moments, but he says the best one was when Jessie Graff hit the buzzer in Stage One. “I’ve been training with her since season five or something. And seeing her accomplish that, like the electricity in the air when she hit that buzzer was definitely one of my favorite moments. Just watching and being a part of it in some sense.”
His advice on how to keep going even when things don’t go your way on the course?
“I put in a lot of training to get up to the level of like David Campbell and Ryan Stratis and the other guys who were so good at the time, and then to go out early—season two, I went out on the third obstacle, season three, I went out on the first obstacle—like that was the hardest mental barrier to get over because it makes you question, should you still be doing this? What has all the training been for? And just getting back on the horse, I went and tested after failing the steps and remembering that those results don’t define who you are, what you’re capable of. And getting yourself into that mindset so that you can attack a new course, a new year, with the same resolve at 100%. Getting there might be a different path for each person, but as long as you can kind of really find the path that takes you there, that’s how you’ll have longevity in the sport.”