It’s not uncommon for an American Ninja Warrior run to make us emotional, but Kyle Schulze’s Qualifying run was both devastating and exhilarating at the same time.
Kyle, who is deaf, has made it his mission to reach a buzzer. In his past four seasons on the show, something has always tripped him up and prevented that final moment. Back for the season 13 Qualifiers, Kyle removed the word “quit” from his vocabulary. As Kyle worked his way through Tilt-A-Whirl, the fourth obstacle on the course, it became very apparent that he was in a great deal of pain.
Later, Kyle explained to us what was happening there.
“Before I competed, I had an injury two months ago. I was really worried about my shoulder not being able to keep up performing on the obstacles. At the same time, I was just happy and grateful to be back on the course. I think I enjoyed this run more than I have in other years because I put so much heart and effort into it.”
“Heart and effort” is an understatement. Kyle shook off the pain of Tilt-A-Whirl and locked on to the fifth obstacle, Sideways. With cries of determination and anguish, he forced himself through every move, even grabbing the middle slider with just one hand and somehow reaching up with his second. But he finally peeled off the obstacle.
Coming out of the water, Kyle was devastated that his run was over, and heartbroken that his season might be as well. But fate was on his side that night.
“I barely made it to the Semifinals. I placed 30th. I was blown away because I thought there were going to be a bunch of other people able to beat my time, but I was fortunate enough to get the opportunity to redeem myself.”
That means Kyle will have another chance to reach his goal in the Semifinals, or, as he put it...
“Not fall on the first five obstacles. My goal would be to finally get a buzzer. That’s setting the bar pretty high. A great goal would be to finally get to the Warped Wall and then beat all those obstacles afterward. Honestly, just being able to get back to the Semifinals is one of my happy goals.”
But what about that shoulder? It’s on Kyle’s mind as well.
“I’ve definitely done more cardio, but not a lot of Ninja stuff to rest my shoulder. It was definitely hurting for several days afterward (Qualifiers). It’s still not 100%. We’ll see how I do.
Right now, I feel better than I did at the Qualifiers, but my shoulder, it’s probably going to be another couple of months before it heals. There are some moves on the course that are probably going to be a little jarring to the shoulder. But like the Qualifiers, I’m going to give it the best I can.”
Kyle’s best left us floored by his mental strength in the Qualifiers. We can’t wait to see what he does in the Semifinals.