Church Hill and Hawkins County as a whole will be able to root for a local competitor in this upcoming season of American Ninja Warrior, set to begin filming this spring.
Fifteen-year-old Hunter Ogden will be competing against athletes from all over the country of all different ages in the show that features wild obstacle courses that require incredible feats of strength and agility to overcome.
Though accomplishing so much at such a young age, Hunter remains humble and owes everything he has done so far to God and his family.
His strict workout regiment and a lifetime of climbing trees mixed with a fierce determination may have added to his spectacular successes as well.
“I’ve always been a very monkey-ish kid,” said Hunter, who is a high school freshman in the Hawkins County Schools’ Virtual Academy. “Climbing around on trees and hanging onto doorframes of houses. Anything that you can imagine in that sort of direction, I’ve always been doing that.”
When discussing what led him to want to compete in one of the world’s biggest competitions, Hunter stated, “About five years ago my great-grandmother showed me American Ninja Warrior and I absolutely fell in love. It was so cool. And it was like what I had already been doing, but you have to work for it.”
Hunter Ogden states that prior to discovering the show, he had never been able to find a sport he connected with. However, ANW fit because, as he says, “I really like hanging on stuff and Ninja Warrior is a perfect combination of bouldering with cardio involved- I really enjoy and connect with it.”
From a lifetime of loving to climb and finding the perfect niche for someone like Hunter, a creative way of preparing for the show came about.
A Creative Training Technique
“I’ve definitely been upping my workout,” Hunter states, describing his inventive ways of training, “A lot of the things I did was put fence poles up in trees and hanging off of those and all sorts of things trying to be creative in my workouts and trying to replicate things from the show.”
Though ingenious in his home workouts, Hunter reveals that even more intensive training efforts have been made.
Hunter Ogden gives thanks to his parents.
“My parents, who are so supportive of me, have been taking me to Greenville, South Carolina to go an actual American Ninja Warrior gym,” he said.
This gym may not be officially licensed; however, it trains many individuals who hold dreams of one day making it onto the show and includes many former competitors.
Hunter trains with the “Geriatric Ninja” John Loobey in Johnson City. Loobey is a 71-year-old who has competed four separate times, including the most recent season 14 last year, of ANW.
“(Loobey) can still keep up with a lot of the people in their 30s and 40s despite his age,” Hunter said.
With a passion for success through rigorous training, Hunter is excited to compete on national television to share his faith and determination. Hunter’s father, Mark, however, shared that there is even more to this already inspiring tale.
‘He’s definitely a fighter’
“He hasn’t told it,” Mark Ogden began in speaking on his viewpoint of his son’s journey, “it’s been a lifelong thing for him. He’s had thirteen surgeries.”
Mark explained, “From day one, the nurse told us (Hunter) was not supposed to make it.”
Heart murmurs, water in his lungs, and other serious health risks threatened Hunter, but being the champion that he is.
“(Hunter’s) been a fighter since day one,” Mark said. “It’s hard to keep that kid out of a tree, that’s for sure. It’s just so great to see his hard work continue to pay off.”
Mark added, “It’s amazing to see how he’s used such little stuff. We have a crabapple tree in the backyard and this kid has made it into a Ninja Warrior course. He’s absolutely a blessing.”
Battling since the beginning of his life, Hunter awaits the course of American Ninja Warrior while also giving some inspiring words of his own.
The Upcoming Challenge
“I’m just a normal kid,” Hunter said. “I am not special in any way. I guess what I would like to tell anyone is that hard work pays off. If you dedicate yourself to what you love and work hard at it, you will succeed.”
Hunter added, “I am so excited to go on the show and give my glory to God and share my faith. I am so thankful for my family for allowing me to do this.”
Hunter Ogden is one of 400 selectees out of over 70,000 applicants to compete in American Ninja Warrior. Though an air date for the show has not been released, the competition will be filmed in the spring in Los Angeles, California.
Hunter Ogden has the loving support of an amazing family, his strong faith, and dedication to his passion carrying him as a hometown hero performing on a national stage.