MADISON, NJ - There’s a Junior American Ninja Warrior living right here in Madison. Ten-year-old Will Arnstein, a fifth- grader at the Kings Road School, followed his lifelong Ninja passion to be a contestant in the first ever American Ninja Warrior Junior competition to be aired on October 13, 2018 at 7:00 P.M. on the Universal Kids, NBC UNIVERSAL Cable Entertainment’s network for kids.
When he was four or five-years-old, Will saw his parents watching the American Ninja Warriors show on TV, and instantly loved the sport. His love continued to grow – he would play in playgrounds but never use the equipment as intended; for example, he climbed up a slide rather than sliding down, he climbed up doorways in his home by extending his arms between the two sides of the doorway to propel himself upwards, and he has made an ever-evolving obstacle course in his own front and back garden. On his sixth birthday, he, his older brother Trevor, and their dad built a salmon ladder in the family’s back garden. For those not versed in Ninja terminology, a salmon ladder is, “a structure with one movable rung that the Ninja Warrior carries with him (or her) as he ascends—like a pull-up where you bring the bar with you.”
In the summers of 2017 and 2018, Will participated in a parkour (the sport of moving through an area, negotiating obstacles by running, jumping, and climbing) camp hosted by Jamie Rahn, aka “Captain NBC”, a frequent and successful contestant on American Ninja Warrior, the NBC show for Ninjas 19-years-old and older.
After his first session at parkour camp, Will started training at CenterCourt Sports Academy of Chatham under the skilled tutelage of Ninja Warrior Program Director Brayden Provan. CenterCourt boasts a top-notch training staff, with Regional Director Anthony DeFranco, a three-time American Ninja Warrior competitor and Joe Cappo, a former NCAA gymnast and American Ninja Warrior course tester and hopeful, complementing Mr. Provan. Abby Clark, American Ninja Warrior Season 10 rookie standout also trains in Chatham, and has helped bolster the program. Will’s parents, Hannah and Dan Arnstein credit Coach Brayden Provan for “being a great inspiration and coach for Will.” There are three CenterCourt Ninja programs in New Jersey – the one in Chatham and also ones in Lawrence and Mount Olive. The Ninja teams practice twice a week for two hours each time. On weekends, the Chatham team competes against teams from the other CenterCourt teams or other teams in the National Ninja League. Points are accumulated by the athletes at these events and determine who can enter the World Championship competition scheduled in February 2019. Those with the top three scores automatically qualify for Worlds Championships. Will expects to attend 12 to 14 competitions this year and has traveled as far north as Windsor, Connecticut and as far south as Bel Aire, Maryland. Because Will finished second in Bel Aire, he has qualified for Worlds. Coach Brayden has stated that “every time I show Will a new obstacle, he then shows me three other ways to do it.”
When Will found out about the first ever American Ninja Warrior Junior competition, he applied by submitting videos and photos of himself performing Ninja obstacles. When his dad told him that he had been chosen as a contestant, Will was speechless and began doing a celebration dance. The family flew out to California in July for the filmed competition. According to the press release from Universal Kids, nearly 200 boy and girl Junior Ninjas from across the United States faced off on a six-obstacle course. There were three age brackets: nine and ten, eleven and twelve, and thirteen and fourteen- year-olds. Will competed against 63 kids in the nine and ten age bracket. Chatham resident and Will’s CenterCourt teammate, Sawyer Shaw competed in the eleven and twelve age bracket. The courses included “iconic Ninja Warrior obstacles, including Sonic Swing, Tic Toc, Spin Cycle and the Warped Wall.” Will is contractually not permitted to discuss the specifics of the competition including the results. He states “the experience gave me an adrenaline rush that carried me through the well-thought-out course and it flowed from one obstacle to another.” Will enjoyed meeting some of his competition including The Chatter Box Ninja and the VeganStrong Ninja. Will competes wearing a tee-shirt designed by his mum Hannah with a Viking symbol and text that reads “Where there’s a WILL, there’s a way.”
Will’s parents Hannah and Dan Arnstein and brother Trevor are very supportive of Will’s passion and embrace the sport. Mum Hannah explains that “it’s a sport any kid can get into just by going to the local park or playground” and using the equipment there. Will’s parents feel that even though the competitions are individual, the athletes all cheer each other on and are supportive of one another, leading to great camaraderie and respect among teammates and other ninja competitors. Will hopes to be an American Ninja Warrior when he turns 19 and enjoy “a grown-up version of my hobby.” For more information about Will, please see his social media sites at Instagram https://www.instagram.com/warnstein/ and Facebook https://www.facebook.com/warnstein/. Tune in to Universal Kids Network each week on Saturday nights at 7:00pm starting October 13th to watch Will and all the other amazing kids compete on American Ninja Warrior Junior.