When Drew Drechsel stepped on the American Ninja Warrior course in Atlanta, everyone was expecting big things from the veteran competitor. Would it be the fastest time? Maybe revenge on the Mega Wall he just missed in season 10? Drew delivered on all fronts.
He trotted through the course easily, meaning he had plenty of energy left at the end to attempt the Mega Wall. As far as time, it didn’t cost him much as he took the second fastest time of the night behind Tyler Gillett, moving him on to the Power Tower.
It all went so smoothly, you’d think that’s what Drew had in mind the whole time. Maybe yes and maybe no. In an interview before his run, Drew revealed that the neither the Power Tower or the Mega Wall were THAT big of motivating factors for him. Read on to find out more!
On what keeps him motivated after all these seasons
“I’m currently looked at as one of the top Ninjas right now. I’m at the top of my game and I want to remain there. I like being where I’m at. I like having the exposure to hopefully promote good things to youth, or adults even. Just being a good role model. And as long as I’m at the top, I can continue to do so.”
What it means to call himself an American Ninja Warrior
“American. I want to represent my country well. I do a lot of worldly travels as well and compete internationally.
I think Ninja, hence my nickname, the Real Life Ninja, to mean, being a Ninja is more than just physical. It’s also a state of mental composure. Not only that, but to be a Ninja, I’m always looking out for those around me as well. Almost as sort of a protector. Do for those that can’t do for themselves sort of thing.
And then warrior, I’m a fighter, I’m a competitor. I’m out here and I’m going to give it my all. My first year competing on this show, I destroyed my knee before the Warped Wall and yet still tried to run the Warped Wall. I’m never going to quit. I’m never going to stop or give up. There is no ‘Oh maybe next time.’ No, I’m always going to give it my all.”
On how he handles runs that don’t go to plan
“I can’t think of a single season that’s ended the way the Ninja wants it to end. We can debate and say yes, Isaac, that’s how he wanted it. But you know what? I guarantee that it eats him up a little bit that he didn’t hit the buzzer in City Finals.
I think the easiest way to process and cope with the failure is going into it knowing that there is a high likelihood that you’re going to fail. And you have to accept that. As hard as that is for me to say, being that I kind of want to be a perfectionist and hit all the buzzers. You have to understand that with Ninja, anything can go wrong. There are so many things that are outside of your control. It’s something I’ve realized and I’ve started promoting to other people. Like all my students who compete.
There are only two things that you can control on the course. You can control your mentality, how much fun you have. So your mental state. And you can control trying your best. Not to be confused with doing your best. We almost never see anyone do their best, give it their all, to the point of failure. Mistakes happen. Controlling your mindset and controlling trying your best, to your best ability, those are the only two things you actually have control of. Once you realize that, you understand that failure very well could happen. When it does happen, you’ve prepared yourself.
It’s still hard, trust me. Don’t get me wrong. It’s still hard to deal with, but it’s not going to kill you for a year. Like, ‘Alright, well, we knew this could happen. Let’s recover. Let’s look at what went wrong, recover from those mistakes and just try to make sure they never happen again.”
Has he given much thought to the Power Tower
“I’m going to be honest. I really haven’t. This is something that I do every year. It’s just that it’s being brought to light and physically rewarded now, instead of the mental rewards that I think are more important. If you get one of the two fastest times in the Qualifying night and you get that Speed Pass for winning the Power Tower, if you get that, it’s a huge sigh of relief that it doesn’t matter what happens in finals. You can go up to City Finals and compete with a sense of relaxation, you have more confidence. You don’t have to worry as much. That is a big snowball effect of success. Leading into if you end up getting the fastest time because you’re relaxed and you have nothing to lose. Just go for it. Then you end up getting the Safety Pass for Stage One or Two. Then you go into Stage One or Two not nervous, knowing that you have a re-do.
This is something that I’ve done in the past six years. Where I want to have one of the better times, or be at the top, so that when I compete in Finals, I get to watch everyone go. I feel much better about the course, I see what’s going on. Then I have that confidence of I was the fastest time in Qualifiers. There’s no reason that, even if I tone it back, I won’t make it to Finals. Then if I have the fastest time in Finals, well then that means Finals was too easy for me. Now Stage One and Two, let’s see how I do. You see where I’m going. It’s a snowball effect of success. The better you do, the better you’re going to feel and that’s going to continue to help you do better.
Does he want the Mega Wall?
I do. My course plays a big factor into it because I don’t specifically know what the obstacles are. I need to look at it and say, ‘Right. My legs won’t be gassed. I should be fine.’ Or what the weather is going to be like. If it’s too cold, or if it’s too humid out, or if it starts to rain, I may not be going for the 18-foot wall. As much as that $10,000 might be nice, that’s a very short-term, nearsighted goal. I want to make it to the Finals. I want to make it to the Las Vegas Finals. I want to hit that million dollar buzzer on top of Stage Four. That is my goal. So for me to cut myself short for a $10,000 prize, that’s not worth it.
It seems like the night played perfectly to Drew’s strengths. He went home with both the $10,000 from the Mega Wall and the Speed Pass to relax in the City Finals. We’ll find out if that means he turns it up a notch when he returns to the course in a few weeks!