Northport Man Set to Appear on New Season of American Ninja Warrior
A Northport man is living out one of his wildest dreams, as he's scheduled to compete on the upcoming season of the hit reality tv show "American Ninja Warrior."
Devon Collins, originally from Uniontown, has always had a fascination with climbing and jumping. He told The Thread that he spent his childhood. obsessed with martial arts.
"It's always been a hobby of mine," Collins said. "I guess that all started when I was a kid watching 'Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles' and 'Power Rangers.' I remember trying to act out those moves."
It wasn't until Collins moved to the Tuscaloosa area that he saw his passion turn into a profession. He learned of the Tiger-Rock Martial Arts Academy in Northport. He started attending, made his way up through the system to obtain his back belt, and was offered a job to work as an instructor. Now he works with students on a daily basis as a martial arts and life skills coach.
"It combines all of my passions, and it allows me to do what I've always wanted to do," he said. "I truly consider this a dream job."
Collins was already familiar with "American Ninja Warrior," and watched it a lot, but the moment he first realized that he could reasonably compete came one day at work. As he was practicing on a pull-up bar, a student of his nonchalantly mentioned that was one of the obstacles on the show - and he was doing it easily.
For those unfamiliar, "American Ninja Warrior" is a reality tv show centered around massive obstacle courses, where contestants are tasked with clearing the obstacles and hitting a buzzer in the best time. The various challenges are meant to test a person's upper body and lower body strength through obstacles like cliffhangers, balance tests, shrinking steps and all sorts of other challenges in between.
The application process opens at the end of each year. Entrants must submit an application along with a short video introducing themselves, demonstrating their ability to clear obstacles, and generally showing off their personality.
Collins has been regularly applying for the past four years, but never heard back. That wasn't until this past year: Collins had spent his morning working on his video reel when he got a text notification from the casting director asking if he could call.
Sure enough, he was accepted to compete on the 14th season of "American Ninja Warrior."
"I could only think, 'Is this it? Is this really it?'" he said. "At that moment, I felt like all that effort I'd put in for over four years, it just clicked and finally paid off. Now I can say I'm really getting to live out one of my dreams... My students have seen me post so many videos about training. They've kept me motivated through this whole process, and have helped pushed me along."
The next step for Collins will be competing in the qualifying rounds, which will be held in late march at the Alamo Dome in San Antonio, Texas. Should he qualify, Collins will move to the semi-finals, then onto the finals in Las Vegas. The final course consists of three stages, as well as a massive tower competitors must ascend.
At the end of it all, the victor is awarded the grand prize of $1 million.
Collins is currently training on a backyard obstacle course which includes actual obstacles used in previous seasons. It's a course he's constantly adding on to. He's also training at specific "Ninja Gyms" in the area that focus on specific muscle training with more intense obstacles similar to ones seen on the show.
Collins doesn't know when his episode will air, but he said he'll happily let everyone know when it does. He's thrilled to finally realize such a longtime dream of his, and can't wait to show audiences what he has to offer.