Keep your eyes open as you drive past Oneonta’s 1 Tilton Ave. in the next few days. Anthony Eardley is doing his final training to compete in the TV show, “American Ninja Warriors.” Filming starts Monday. (Ian Austin/AllOTSEGO.com)
By JENNIFER HILL • Hometown Oneonta & The Freeman’s Journal
ONEONTA – Since infancy, Anthony Eardley hasn’t let the laws of nature get in his way.
Most people avoid being on something high off the ground or being suspended in midair. Eardley runs toward it – and then climbs, grips, swings and flips over it, front-, side- and backwards.
That lack of fear, plus all-around athletic abilities, plus a drive to overcome obstacles – physical and mental – propelled the 28-year-old Oneonta native to win a spot on NBC’s hit TV show, “American Ninja Warrior,” less than two years since entering his first ninja warrior competition on a whim.
The show will begin airing its 11th season on May 28 at 8 p.m.
“I watched ‘American Ninja Warriors’ for several years. And over time, in the back of mind, I kept hearing, ‘I could do this, that wall doesn’t look that high’,” Eardley said. “Everyone else says, ‘That looks dangerous, I’m not going to try that.’”
Eardley searched the Internet to find a Ninja obstacle course nearby. The closest one was “a hardcore Ninja complex” called “Brooklyn Zoo,” an affiliate of the actual Brooklyn Zoo. It had adult open gym on Saturdays, so he drove there one weekend in September 2017.
“It was overwhelming at first and I almost hurt myself that first day,” said Eardley, who among other accomplishments played for the Oneonta Stallions football team.
Undaunted, he found out there was a competition that day and signed up for it – his first one. He came in third out of about 30 contestants, many of whom had “ninjaed” (that’s a real word) for years.
“I got a $40 gift card and other things, and I thought, ‘I can win prizes?’” Eardley said.
Determined to win a first place in a Ninja warrior competition, he returned to the Internet and found Ninja gyms and competitions all over the country. And each Ninja gym had a different course.