When NBC announced the air date for season 12 of American Ninja Warrior, they included some information on the changes we can expect this year. One of those changes involved how the Ninjas were organized in small groups.
“The top 50 athletes will bring along two people from their communities to compete with them for a total of 150 competitors.”
Don’t think of these groups as teams. “Team” isn’t quite the right word to describe the set up. Some of the top Ninjas and their fellow community members were invited to take part in the St. Louis filming. The groups were there as a support system. Friends and family could not physically be on the sidelines due to the pandemic. So Ninja Warrior found a way to make sure every athelete had the love and support they needed during the competition.
The groups were put together to exemplify the heart of the American Ninja Warrior community, lifting one another up and cheering each other on no matter what. They each ran the course and qualified or did not qualify to advance as individuals. (There’s one little twist to that idea that we’ll tell you about in a different article.)
To give you a better understanding of these groups, we’re going to introduce you to a few of them. First up, Jody Avila, Pauline Avila, and Roge’t Maddox!
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I’m always at a loss for words when it comes to expressing how grateful I am for the incredible opportunities to film alongside so many amazing people! It’s usually us ninjas facing obstacles but the network and producers had to overcome just as many obstacles in order to make this season even happen for the ninjas and fans! With Covid being our new norm, they took every precaution necessary to keep us in a safe environment and minimize any exposures both on and off set! Obstacles are a part of every ninjas life and Covid-19 is just another obstacle we had/have to overcome! I’m so proud of all the ninjas that went out and gave it their all and super grateful to be surrounded by a network @nbc , production company @ninjawarrior and course builders @theatsteam that make our safety their priority during such an uncertain time! #BigDogNinja #ANW12 #Blessed I also got to compete with my beautiful wife @paulinemae31 Actual photo of me tickling the St. Louis Arch's belly from the ground! : @jeriberr
This will be Jody’s fifth season on American Ninja Warrior. Akbar Gbajabiamila dubbed him the “Big Dog Ninja” because, well, he’s big. Jody is 6’6” and still manages to stay nimble on the course. He’s made it to the National Finals twice.
When he’s not training or on the course, Jody is focused on his family. He has two young sons, Brandon and Christian, with wife, Pauline. Pauline is an ICU nurse in Houston, Texas. Her frontline role during this pandemic means she has needed to isolate from her family, a necessary hardship that can only be pulled off by everyone working together. Jody’s time on the course will be a testament to his training and his dedication to those he loves.
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I’m so excited to announce that I was invited to compete on American Ninja Warrior this season!!! I met and competed with so many amazing people that I’m honored to be a part of! . Don’t miss the season premier on Monday, September 7 at 8/7c on @nbc . What’s even better is that I also get to share this incredible journey alongside my husband! @jodyavila.ninja . . . . . .
Pauline competed once before on American Ninja Warrior in season 10. Her return for season 12 is an acknowledgement of what a warrior she is in her everyday life. As an ICU nurse in Houston, Pauline has been working in a COVID-19 care unit since March. It’s required not only strenuous hours, but that Pauline keep her distance from her family. She has slept in a guest room and avoided hugging and kissing her boys.
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This is my beautiful and amazing wife! She is an ICU nurse putting herself at risk to keep others alive! Every patient in her unit is a Covid-19 patient To call myself a proud husband is an understatement! That being said, I haven’t been able to kiss her or even hug her in weeks and the way things are going I don’t know when I will be able to We never know if God forbid today she gets infected, or tomorrow or the day after, so she can’t get close to me and the kids and can’t sleep in the same bed as me either. Unfortunately people continue to disregard the #StayAtHome orders and continue to put the safety of others at higher risk including our healthcare workers! Do your part to try to #StayHome so me and the boys can finally give @paulinemae31 all the hugs and kisses she deserves!! #covid #Coronavirus #LetsFightitTogether #HelpMeKissMyWife #Quarantine #NursesAreHeros
The strain of this experience keeps the course in perspective for Pauline. She’s participating to raise awareness of the tactics we can all take to slow the spread of the virus. (Pauline was able to participate in season 12 because of the extensive safety precautions taken by production that allowed her to maintain social distancing.)
Just like Jody and Pauline, Roge’t understands the importance of family. He’s one of 19 siblings and has two young children himself.
Roge’t is a Ninja Warrior rookie who’s ready for his shot. He’s been training at Iron Sports in Houston along with Ninjas like Jody and Josh Salinas. Roge’t’s athletic background includes football, baseball, and track. He has transitioned from being an American Ninja Warrior fan to a Ninja himself, training almost every day. He’ll be looking to prove himself when he gets his shot at season 12, with Jody and Pauline there to cheer him on.
Jody, Pauline, and Roge’t are a prime example of the groups we’ll see on season 12 of American Ninja Warrior. The new season debuts on September 7 at 8pm EST/PST on NBC.