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Ninja Warriors highlight their community with #MyNinjaRoleModel

The hashtag was started by Ninja Warrior Chris DiGangi.

David Becker/NBC

With everything going on in the world on a daily basis, sometimes it feels like a little positivity is hard to find. One American Ninja Warrior wants to change that.

Four-time National Finalist Chris DiGangi recently decided to shine a light on his Ninja role models, the people who’ve inspired, supported, and driven him through his Ninja Warrior career. Chris began sharing behind-the-scenes memories on Instagram with the hashtag #MyNinjaRoleModels and it’s too sweet.

His first shout out went to Chris Wilczewski, who is one of the founders of the National Ninja League and has literally given DiGangi the shirt off his back before.

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#myninjarolemodels One of my first true role models in this sport and an absolute legend, Chris Wilczewski. Chris started one of the first ninja gyms in the country and so many top east coast ninjas can trace their ninja origin back to training with him. Early on, Chris developed a culture where top ninjas could come together and train, where every session was about pushing each other to get stronger through support and encouragement and as many of those top ninjas went on to start their own gyms that culture is what we all strive to pass down to the next generation. In my rookie season I didn’t know anyone and had no idea how to do a salmon ladder. Someone suggested I ask Chris because he had built one and sure enough without even knowing me he perfectly displayed what ninja is all about by helping a fellow competitor and giving me the exact instruction on how to beat it, and I did and I finished my first city finals course. Season 5 in Baltimore we had to run qualifier and finals in the same night in 37 degree weather. Chris unfortunately didn’t make it to finals, but I did and production wouldn’t let me leave the winner area to go get my extra clothes. Chris gave me the sweatshirt he was wearing so I could stay warm and said “I’m not competing anymore but you are so you need it more than I do”. Chris has created something truly amazing for this sport in the NNL giving thousands of competitors, both young and old the chance to compete and share in this amazing community. The atmosphere of respect and encouragement that his gyms were founded on carry over into every NNL competition and it helps our standard of sportsmanship grow with every new competitor! #anwnation #anw @anwnation @ninjawarrior

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Chris called out Nick Hanson for his dedication to Ninja Warrior regardless of the resources at his disposal, his endless support for others, and his sense of humor.

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#myninjarolemodels When it comes to passion and love for the sport of Ninja, look no further than Nick Hanson! So many of the top ninjas in this sport have access to state of the art facilities and Nick has achieved unbelievable success by building his own obstacles out of driftwood and training in outdoor conditions in Alaska where its usually FREEZING! Nick invited us out to the Alaska State Fair and I saw first hand how much the Alaskan community looks up to Nick and they couldn't have chosen a better role model! During Ninja Vs. Ninja we were having a team meeting to decide who to put on the back half of the course for the relay. Jon and I both wanted Jesse to take the back half, but she was nervous and unsure of herself because she'd be racing Ian Dory and we had to win. Nick overheard the conversation and gave Jesse so much support and confidence that Jesse agreed and she ended up winning it for us! Nick is the type of person to put himself above others and to spread positivity and encouragement to everyone around him. A few years ago Nick and I started a joke that he and I were on the ninja "B Team" because we were always hanging around Grant and Jesse (and let's face it they're amazing). Since then Nick and I have both had a lot of success on ninja and we always laugh and try to convince the other that they're now on the "A team". Nick is someone that I admire so much and his positivity and spirit is something every ninja should strive for! @anwnation @ninjawarrior #anw #ninja #anwnation

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Mike Bernardo helped to inspire Chris’ drive and motivation when he was new to Ninja Warrior.

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#myninjarolemodels I met Mike Bernardo after my rookie season when I started to train for ninja specifically at a ninja gym in NJ. I had never been so intimidated around anyone in my entire athletic career. The guy was not only jacked but had the strength to back it up and the way he moved on obstacles was unbelievably impressive, I knew I wanted to model my ninja abilities after him. Whenever you enter into a new group you have to earn your way in, actions speak louder than words, so every training session I tried as hard as I could to prove myself by working as hard as Mike and even though I was no where near as strong, I tried to do everything he did. Without even knowing, Mike gave me so much drive and motivation, I was determined to be as strong as him and I worked myself hard because I knew I had to catch up (or at least try). Mike took me under his wing early on as he’s done with so many other ninjas and I wouldn’t be the ninja I am today without him. I’ve learned so much from him, he brought me to the fire academy to train parkour, running around abandoned buildings and hauling fire hoses up flights of stairs and he taught me how to move better by jumping around rocks at great falls. If you want Mike’s respect you have to earn it, not by being the strongest but by showing you’re willing to work and respect the sport of ninja that we all love. Im so grateful for everything Mike has taught me and for having someone to look up to like Mike! @anwnation @ninjawarrior #anw #anwnation #ninjawarrior

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Chris’ feel-good campaign is catching on with a few of the other Ninjas. Ninja Warrior OG Brian Kretsch jumped on the hashtag to share some special memories with David Campbell (another OG).

Michael Johnson told us more about his “sensei” Ryan Stratis, who helped to shape Michael’s training with friendship and brutal honesty.

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I think @ninja_digangi is on to something and if you dont mind me jumping on the #myninjarolemodels bandwagon I give you sir @ryan_strat or as I call him SENSEI! I knew nothing about sport ninja, I was introduced by another one of my role models @obstaclearchitect back when slingshot was still a thing. Jason was the first person to school me in the ways of ninja but that's a post I've made atleast 20 times now. After I out grew it he sent us to check out @ninjaquestfitness. Being the best athletes at slingshot we thought quest would be no different boy were we wrong. That ninja night Ryan and Sensei Brett crushed us but what stuck out the most was how encouraging and warm the two of them were. Although new to the gym we were treated as though we were already part of the family and coached the whole time as if we've been training partners for years. At the end of us getting destroyed of course we were met with nothing but praise and offers to come back and train more often. Which of course I took up and as the weeks went by I got stronger and stronger still nowhere near Ryan but the time came where we both had to run in Daytona and if you know Ryan he zones out. I on the other hand am freaking out so I asked Ryan what did he do to prepare. He was kind enough to break his own pre run ritual to explain how he physically writes down a plan of attack and visualizes each and every last move that he makes over and over again. he shared ways that he clears his mind before competing and assured me that I'll be okay sure enough I was and happened to make it to Vegas. So to that I say thank you The Sensei part of Ryan came in once I started coaching. Sensei was head coach and truthfully speaking ran the gym with efficiency I've never seen before. He is a big part of the reason why my bots are were they are now. He helped lay down their foundation in the sport, he made sure they were balanced and not just focused on big moves I modeled my style of coaching directly from sensei becaus truthfully I never coached anything until then so thank you for coaching me to be the coach I am now. Thank you for your brute honesty, your friendship & just being my Sensei

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Evan Dollard shared a deeply emotional story that exemplified Michelle Warnky’s warmth and grace.

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Five years ago I was invited to teach a summer ninja camp for kids in Michigan. I flew in and out of my hometown, Chicago, so that I could visit family and friends. After spending a couple days with my Dad, I headed East to join an all star crew of ninjas ready to coach young athletes, compete, and sign a few autographs. Or in my case... provide color commentary and watch kids line up to get an autograph from @joemoravsky . . We trained these future ninjas on homemade obstacles in a giant field under a blue sky. The afternoons were blazing hot and thick with humidity, but the kids didn’t mind. Everyone was having an absolute blast. Then... I got a call. It was a former colleague and his voice was somber. “Kari passed away” he told me. . Kari had been at the top of my list to see right after camp. I knew she had been battling cancer, but I thought there was plenty of time. It turns out Kari didn’t let on just how sick she was. I crouched down in the grass and cried. . I was in Michigan to train kids. Inspire them. Dust off their knees and their courage after a fall. But suddenly I was the one in need of a helping hand. . Which brings me to @michellewarnky . For the remainder of camp, she had my back. At times that meant letting me cry. Other times it was laughing at a stupid joke. Or offering a prayer. . It is a rare type of human that can encourage simply by listening. That continually exudes compassion and grace. That can in one moment be truly present and selfless. Michelle is such a rarity. She is a tour de force of authenticity, quirkiness, and jaw-dropping athleticism. She has inspired tens of thousands of young people as a top female athlete in the sport and I have no doubt she will continue to do so in the future. . That is only one story of many. One tiny example of a time when — in a community of fearless, playful, and downright zany humans — I found someone who was there for me. . I still miss my friend Kari. I think of her often. And when I do, it’s easy to be thankful for another friend that’s still just a text or phone call away. #myninjarolemodels #anwnation

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Who would you give a shout out to with #MyNinjaRoleModel?