Lilah Nathison takes on Ninja Warrior

Lilah Nathison takes on Ninja Warrior

Anna D'Abruzzo, Sports Writer

Sophomore Lilah Nathison bravely competed in American Ninja Warrior in San Antonio. At 15 years old, she is one of the youngest people to ever compete. 

Nathison first tried out a Ninja course at Rock Solid Warrior in Fuquay-Varina and was left feeling a tad discouraged.    “I tried out the course at a competition team practice. I didn’t do great and everyone was better than me. I got really discouraged and didn’t want to go back,” said Nathison.

Nathison clearly did go back and a year later landed a place on ANW, on live TV.

Nathison began her training on Oct. 22, 2021, just one year ago.  “I keep a photo of myself in the gym from that day on my phone,” said Nathison. 

She started attending open gyms and classes at a ninja warrior training gym and later entered local and elite-level ninja competitions.

Nathison, who goes by L. Grizz during competition, because of her grizzly, fearless demeanor when approaching obstacles, had the town and viewers intrigued.  She had a good run during her first showing, clearing the first four obstacles. Like many other competitors that night, her run ended on the Salmon Roll. Her time in that obstacle placed her 23rd overall in the top 40 and 4th among the female competitors. 

Nathison later competed in the second semifinals episode. Her run was full of excitement and energy, but she fell on the third obstacle, going out on Clockwork, and ending her rookie season. Nonetheless she had a great time at the competition.

“Being in LA was when it really hit me and felt like a huge TV show,” said Nathison. “It was  the coolest experience of my life. I met so many people I had admired for a long time.”

Initially, Nathison started ninja training for fun, feeling it would be both a physical and mental outlet for her ADHD. Nathison shared, “I was diagnosed in the 8th grade and the doctor told me to try and find a sport that was highly physical. I tried many different things.” 

 “When training and competing in ninja, it has made my ADHD feel like a strength and not a weakness, like everywhere else,” she shared. “I can use it to my advantage.”

Ninja training takes a great deal of commitment. 

“I train for ninja specifically three or four times a week, focusing on strength and technique.” Training doesn’t stop there. Nathison also attends Parisi Speed School twice a week to work on power, speed, and endurance.  

Nathison can be found at Rock Solid Warrior just about every evening.

“People probably think I am obsessed with ninja; it’s definitely my life.” Nathison is proud and grateful for her ninja community, “It’s helped me through some challenging times and the ninja community is so supportive and fun. They are some of the nicest people I have ever met.”

Ninja training requires a lot of hard work and dedication. 

“It’s a great full body workout and you get stronger without even noticing it because it’s so much fun,” shared Nathison. Ninja training isn’t just good for physical strength and growth but also mental health. 

“It’s you against the course,” stated Nathison. “Ninjas are generally pretty fearless and take risks. We are pretty creative because we find so many different approaches to obstacles.” 

The ninja experience has empowered Nathison more than other sports.

“It’s a total adrenaline rush because you are flying through the air and doing things that you didn’t think your body could do.” 

NBC chose to feature Nathison on the show. ¨NBC came to Fuquay to film me. This made me very happy because I was able to share a lot about something I am passionate about, which is helping teen girls and young women who suffer from ADH,”  said Nathison.           

Nathison keeps active on the ninja course and off. She cheers at FVHS and is planning to pole vault this spring. We should expect to see a lot more of this small town celebrity in the future.