In April 2017, Cole was contacted by the producers of American Ninja Warrior to compete on Season 9 of the action-packed reality TV show. Cole was set to compete starting at the Denver City qualifier in May 2017.
With less than a month to prepare, Cole hit a new training routine immediately and began figuring out what his ninja strengths and weaknesses were at a local ninja gym – Ninja Warehouse. Previous to the call with the show’s producers, Cole was not focused or training on ninja courses. His training previous to the call was on lifting weights, Spartan endurance racing and strength training for his sponsored wakeboarding.
There is something deeply inspiring when you see how quickly a person has to change their mind, change their direction and make an improvement. In a few short weeks Cole’s ninja training was growing quickly in skill and strength. Ultimately, with only weeks to prepare, off we went to Denver and our first ANW adventure!
Have you ever noticed all of the amazing lighting on the ninja course? Well, to produce the consistent look and feel of the competition, ANW is filmed all night long from roughly 9 PM to 5 AM (or before sunrise). Cole’s call time was 11 PM and his run landed at 2:30 AM! That’s not the biggest challenge… it was only 40 degrees. No gloves, tape or hand protection is allowed. Burrrrrr if you hit the water!
It was amazing to first-hand watch multiple American Ninja superstars take on the Denver course. One thing you cannot gauge from your TV screen is how BIG the course actually is in height and obstacle size. It’s even harder when you have extremely talented athletes taking it on to realize how hard each obstacle is.
Cole took to the course at 2:30 AM with his family cheering him on. He faced all new obstacles he had never trained before, besides one – the Spider Wall. He conquered new obstacle after new obstacle. As he landed one obstacle and prepared for the Spider Wall (the one obstacle on the course he had experience with), he saw a towel next to the obstacle and wiped his feet on it. Little did he know, the towel was damp from wiping down the wall and upon jumping into the obstacle immediately slipped… What’s wild is, some how he caught himself, but in the process his foot re-hit the starting platform and disqualified him.
The moral of his story with his first debut on ANW – you can train and train and train – but no matter how much you’ve trained, mistakes happen. It’s a very tough feeling for athletes. Although Cole came out completely dry from his run, it was easy to see he was capable of so much more. He returned home wondering, what would a full year of training make him capable of?
Cole reapplied for Season 10 and was casted to compete a very short 5 months after undergoing a necessary full shoulder surgery. With a short recovery timeline for training in order to get back to his regular motion and strength, Cole made it happen. Regardless of the training set-back, he filmed with ANW for the Minneapolis City Qualifier in May 2018. Cole once again made it far down the obstacle course, only to be taken out by the “Ring Hopper” this time making his first splash. He was happy to report zero issues with his shoulder and thoroughly enjoying the atmosphere amongst the fellow ninjas.
What’s on the agenda for 2019? Of course a third submission for the honor of the old saying, “the Third Time is the Charm” to compete and redeem his shot at the 2019 American Ninja Warrior City Qualifiers.
Follow Cole’s personal journey here: