Tucson native and current Northern Arizona University (NAU) Sophomore, Izabella Adkins, could not believe she was selected for season 14 of the American Ninja Warriors (ANW) competition show.
“It felt unreal,” Adkins said about the casting call she received in February. “I was just walking to class (at NAU) when I saw some random number calling me. I answered and they said I was selected.”
She said it felt like a dream up until she was in San Antonio, Texas, for the qualifiers in March. She had applied for it in November of last year, once she turned 18.
“The most elite athletes in the country are back for NBC’s American Ninja Warrior season 14, airing Mondays,” Caitlin Jaynes, senior account executive with MPRM Communications, said in a statement. “The new season marks the return of the lowered age requirement, which opens the door to a new era of competitors as young as 15.”
A “superfan,” Adkins said she’s been watching ANW since she was 13.
“It was super cool,” she said of the show. “And I thought this would be cool to do one day.”
Adkins, 19, who will graduate from NAU in Spring 2025, said she was inspired by her father to do her best and work toward her dreams.
“He is in a wheelchair,” she said of her dad. He suffered a traumatic brain injury before she was born. “That is how I have always known him, he said to keep pushing yourself.”
With her heart set on American Ninja Warriors, Adkins said she started wall climbing and sport climbing with a climbing team at Rocks and Ropes in downtown Tucson when she was 10, but aged-out at 18. She said she could only do wall climbing in Tucson because there are no ninja warrior gyms in town. However, she said there were a few of those gyms in Phoenix she would visit to practice.
Due to the lack of obstacle style training gyms in town, she set up her backyard to train. Adkins said she added obstacles such as a salmon ladder and other climbing obstacles to help her perform well.
When she moved up to Flagstaff for NAU, she found a ninja warrior gym, Summit Ninja Warrior, where she works, trains others and perfects her craft.
In San Antonio, Adkins placed second out of the top five females and placed 18 overall out of 30.
The semi-finals recently aired Monday, July 25, and Adkins placed first of top three females advancing and 14 out of 15 overall. Due to her performance, Adkins is advancing to the finals in Las Vegas.
She said there are four stages with very difficult obstacle courses in which one must complete in order to win the grand prize of $1 million. Adkins said competitors must complete each stage to advance to the next. If all stages are completed, they win the grand prize. She said only two have made it to Stage 2, but didn’t complete it so they did not advance to Stage 3.
“But no woman has competed (in the four final stages),” she said. “No one has won the grand prize.”
She said they have a new prize for the last person standing at Stage 4. Adkins said she believes it would be $100,000.
Season 14 American Ninja Warrior Las Vegas National finals will air starting Aug. 8, 2022.