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A heartfelt message to the Ninja Warrior community

“This is the time to show the world who we really are and what we stand for.”

Derek Mathews/Instagram

The American Ninja Warrior community is reeling from the recent news of Drew Drechsel’s arrest. As each person attempts to sort through their individual emotions regarding the situation, one thought keeps coming back to the surface: This sport and this community is bigger than this.

Derek Mathews, a competitor on American Ninja Warrior season nine and a Ninja coach, recently shared his thoughts on social media. We’re sharing them below, with his permission.

The following is unedited from its original form.

“Long Post Ahead...

I am still struggling to find the right words to say in such a crazy time. Along with everyone else I am feeling so many emotions that I didn’t even know was possible to feel all at once. But to best describe how I’m feeling is hurt confused and betrayed. I would be lying if I said that for moments after hearing and seeing the news that I no longer wanted to be a part of this big growing family. No longer wanted to be a part of the community or sport of ninja warrior. I didn’t even want to go in to work the next day because I felt let down and lost. what would I say to kids that have been trained by Drew? What would I even say to the parents who witnessed not only their children and other students grow under his teachings but how to acknowledge their views on us the coaches who also went through the same teachings as there kids. Even now after having multiple people reach out to me and having them reassure their feelings towards myself and others have not changed because of someone else’s actions and choices. I’m still scared of this outcome and how it’s going to affect us in the ninja warrior world for a very long time.

I would like to apologize for not responding to a lot of people who have been reaching out. I hear you and feel your hearts alongside with mine, but this is still very overwhelming and even though I’m writing this I still feel I don’t have the right things to say. but know that your messages are coming through and I am taking everything in and I do appreciate everyone who has reached out to me about the situation and even to those who have been checking on my own well-being.

I know a lot of people are feeling anger and hate but I don’t want this to be about that. I want to take this moment to remind everyone who we really are. Who I really am. I am Derek Mathews, I am Bug Man. I am a ninja warrior that started his journey with the same motivation and inspiration as others. I am fueled and driven To not only push past my own physical and mental limits but to also help others, adults and children alike, to do the same. Whether it be an obstacle that is physically standing in front of us that may intimidate us and sometimes make us doubt our own abilities, but to also help them get through the obstacles that life throws at us.

So my fellow ninjas and comrades in the field, we have a job to do now. This may be one of the most important and challenging things we’ve ever done. This is the time to show the world who we really are and what we stand for. To show the world what we fight for every single day inside and outside of our gyms and outside of the sport of Ninja. We are bigger than this, we are better than this, And now it’s our time to step up and lead the way. And if you think it becomes too much, too hard to handle, even to the point where we forget who we are or why we are doing this. Just remember why you had a day one for Ninja and why are you pushed forward to have a day two, or a week, or year’s of ninja.

I offer my heart and my ears to those who need it most. Ninja or not, I am here. We are here.

I am Derek Mathews. I am Bug Man. I am a Ninja. It’s time for us to be the heroes that people continue to believe we are.

Stay united my ninjas.

‘We stand up tall
Even in the dark
Never forget we are a light house burning
Oh, they can’t hold us back
Never forget we are a light house burning
Oh, we will shine on
To bring us back home”