For fans of American Ninja Warrior, when a favored competitor has an early fall, it’s a momentary disappointment. A big sigh or gasp in front of the TV. Then the episode ends and we busy ourselves with other aspects of our lives.
But for the competitor, that upsetting moment can change everything.
Season 13 is Jody Avila’s sixth season on American Ninja Warrior and he’s weathered more ups and downs than we might have realized. He cleared the Qualifying course after one missed Warped Wall attempt, and Jody knew that might be a tough spot for him.
“I’ve had a partially torn PCL in my right knee. I’m kind of concerned about balance and I am in no way going for the Mega Wall. If I fall on the course, I would never blame an injury. If I’m out there, I’m ready,” he shared prior to his first run.
“This is what I do. This is my sixth season. I feel like I can hit every buzzer that’s put in front of me. This season is no different.”
Jody had big plans for the Semifinals and had even told us that he would avoid the Tuning Forks when he reached obstacle nine. But the point became moot when Jody fell on the fifth obstacle, Wall to Wall.
“It was a rough experience,” Jody said after. “I went down on the obstacle that had me the most concerned, Wall to Wall. It’s not made for anyone above six feet, in my opinion. It was really uncomfortable for me to get off of it. No excuses though, I whiffed the left hand. I should have cleared that course and been on the Power Tower.”
It’s easy to say that falling is an inevitable part of Ninja Warrior. It is, but that doesn’t override the sting it can deliver to a competitor. Some time had passed when we had a chance to ask Jody how he was feeling after his experience at the Semifinals.
“This has been a very weird season for me that had me second-guessing a lot of things. After being one of five clears in Qualifiers, I was riding pretty high. And then going down early in Semifinals, it was one of those things. If you’d have asked me last year or two months ago ‘Is it a fluke if you fall or a fluke if you hit a buzzer?’ I would have said it’s a fluke when I fall. But after Semifinals, I got into the mindset that maybe it’s a fluke when I hit the buzzer. It was a really hard mindset to break.”
What’s next for Jody? In a way, it’s hitting the reset button for himself.
“I don’t need to prove anything to anybody. I need to prove to myself that I can do what I know that I can do.”