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Ashley McConville’s joyful run moves her to the Semi-Finals

“I convinced myself that if I did poorly, it was going to effect what people thought of me. It doesn’t.”

Ashley McConville was excited, that much was clear. We sat down to talk with the sophomore American Ninja Warrior competitor in St. Louis, as she prepared to take on the Qualifying course for season 12. Ashley bubbled with enthusiasm at every turn. From talking about her Ninja group with JJ Woods and Ronald Washington, to analyzing her chances on the course, she was positively positive.

Now the American Ninja Warrior audience is feeling pretty positive about her, too. On the second night of Qualifiers, Ashley was the first competitor to reach the buzzer, her first buzzer as well. While the Ferris Wheels served as a roadblock to many, Ashley charged ahead with a can-do attitude. When she missed the grab on the Warped Wall twice, she looked to the sidelines for her teammates. With a quick boost of support, Ashley boosted herself to the buzzer.

Read on to find out what Ashley had to say as she prepared to hone her energy into a jaw-dropping run.

On getting the call

“It’s so amazing. I train with Caleb and Caitlyn Bergstrom. When Caleb got a call, I was like ‘Okay, they’re sending out calls. It’s happening.’ But when I heard all the other people who were getting calls, I was like, ‘Oh, it’s the elites. It’s the best of the best.’ I had decided I wasn’t getting a call because I did so bad last year. There’s no way. It’s all good. I’ll just train really hard next year. But then a couple of days later, I got the call. I was actually coming home from a date with Caleb and my phone rang and it was a California number. We both started shouting. Then Caitlyn got (the call) like two days later. We get to do this together!

I was shocked. They want me? They’re doing such a select few and they chose me? That’s so crazy. I was over the moon excited.”

Her motivation for season 12

“Last year I put too much pressure on myself. I put too many expectations on myself that were unrealistic. I convinced myself that if I did poorly, it was going to affect what people thought of me. It doesn’t. I think that was something that was really important for me to learn.

One of my motivations is to have fun. To be joyful despite the outcome because I believe there’s a purpose why we’re here. It might be bigger than Ninja. So even if your run doesn’t go how you hoped it would, that’s okay. Life is not all about a Ninja competition.

My other motivation is my Uncle David. He’s one of my biggest fans with Ninja. He just thinks it’s so cool that I can do all this stuff. He has Down syndrome. To be able to see him so excited about something that I’m doing is the best feeling. I really hope that I can do well so he can get some air time. Just to see him smile big. I know he’ll be happy even if I fall in the water. I hope I can hit a buzzer so he can light up and be so happy for me.”

What is her biggest Ninja Warrior challenge?

“Not getting in my own head, not getting overwhelmed with everything. That’s something I do a lot. I know I’m physically capable of accomplishing a lot, but mentally, I don’t know. Something happens when I start competing. Either I’m in the zone, or I can’t get myself to be in the zone. I can’t get myself to believe in myself. I think that’s something I need to work on. Not be cocky, but confidently believe that I’m capable of this.”

Elizabeth Morris/NBC

Hopefully, Ashley’s run proved to her that she’s 100% capable of this! She’ll be back for the American Ninja Warrior Semi-Finals!