Hans Hertz was flipping through channels about a year ago when he stumbled onto "American Ninja Warrior." The now 11-year-old thought the show was so cool he asked to go to a Ninja athletic gym for …
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Hans Hertz was flipping through channels about a year ago when he stumbled onto "American Ninja Warrior." The now 11-year-old thought the show was so cool he asked to go to a Ninja athletic gym for his birthday.
It became a passion. This October, Hertz will be one of three Douglas County kids — two from Castle Rock and one from Parker — whom residents can catch on television in the premiere of "American Ninja Warrior Junior."
The event is the first junior version of the popular "American Ninja Warrior" competitions where athletes tackle elite obstacle courses.
The show airs Oct. 13 on Universal Kids, universalkids.com, at 5 p.m. Mountain Time. About 200 Junior Ninjas from through the nation will compete in one of three brackets, ranging in age from 9 years old to 14.
The three youths can't reveal the results of the competition, which was filmed in Los Angeles in July, but spoke to Colorado Community Media about their passion for the sport and experience at the games.
Hans Hertz, 11, of Castle Rock; Kaya Senderak, 10, of Castle Rock; and Charlie Dieringer, 14, of Parker each were invited to participate in the competition after submitting applications including a video and questionnaire about their lives.
Hertz and Senderak took up ninja athletics about one and two years ago and train at Ninja Intensity in Castle Rock. Senderak said she practices for two hours every Monday and Friday at a minimum.
Dieringer, primarily a gymnast, heard about "American Ninja Warrior" Junior through his gymnastics coach, applied and began training in the technique at Ninja Intensity when he was accepted onto the show about a month in advance. Dieringer trains in gymnastic roughly 20 hours a week and is a Level 10 gymnast, the highest level achievable in the sport.
Come competition time on “a burning hot” July day, in Senderak's words, all three of the athletes described participating in the show as a “once in a lifetime” opportunity filled with adrenaline and jitters.
“It was so nerve-wracking,” Hertz said, “Until you started the course and then all your nerves went away.”
Hetz's mother, Lisa, said it's not just the kids who get nervous. She, Senderak's mother, Beth Ann, and Dieringers' mother, Sara, said they get butterflies watching their children compete.
“It's so fun,' Lisa said. “When he runs the course, he's always smiling, and that makes me happy.”
If an athlete falls off the course, they're disqualified, and they're also racing against the clock to complete it.
“You don't know what to train for,” Sara said. “You have to prepare for anything.”
And no matter the outcome, Beth Ann said, all the families have a blast seeing the kids compete.
“I'm just so amazed by what these kids can do,” Beth Ann said. “All of the kids. It's so neat watching what their abilities are.”
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