Kids take Ninja Warrior to new heights

Ultimate Ninjas Wall

By Junie Burns and Selah Holland
Medill Reports

Most people view Ninja Warrior as an entertaining sports competition where strong, agile athletes compete. But to the kids of the Ultimate Ninjas Chicago Elite team , it’s more like life outside of school.

Across the nation, kids are taking the American Ninja Warrior world by storm. This year, Universal Kids launched American Ninja Warrior Junior, a new show where kids race each other across the obstacles made famous by NBC’s adult competition series, American Ninja Warrior.

On the Ultimate Ninjas Chicago Elite team, several of the young ninjas have already found success competing on the first and second seasons of American Ninja Warrior Junior.

“I think for the future of Ninja as a sport, the kids – they’re blowing it up,” said team coach and four-time American Ninja Warrior competitor Michael Torres. “They’re doing things that we can’t do.”

Most of the kids  go to the Ultimate Ninjas Chicago gym in Ravenswood five or six times a week to practice and spend weekends competing in ninja competitions. The Elite team tryouts occur three times a year and are open to boys and girls in the age ranges of six to eight, nine to 11 and 12 plus.

Photo at top: The Elite team swings through the practice course at the Ultimate Ninjas gym in Ravenswood.(Video still by Selah Holland/Medill)