CAROLE VASTA FOLLEY
The word ninja derives from the Japanese character “nin,” which means to persevere. It is a quality seventh-grader Rose Lord not only lives up to but put on display in the inaugural season of “American Ninja Warrior Junior.”
Selected as one of 192 competitors aged nine to 14 from across the U.S., Lord competed for a chance to be champion on courses familiar to fans of the popular adult “American Ninja Warrior” reality show.
In head-to-head matches, she and her fellow ninjas took on such iconic obstacles as the Sonic Swing, Tic Toc, Spin Cycle and the Warped Wall.
“I’m really surprised I got picked to compete on the show – so many kids applied,” said Lord, a student at The Schoolhouse in South Burlington and a resident of Charlotte. “I’m really grateful. I got to fly to Los Angeles and hang out with other ninja kids from all over the country.”
The series was filmed in July 2018 and began airing last October. Lord, under secrecy to not disclose results before episodes aired, impressively made it to the semifinal round, which aired April 13, before getting knocked out.
“I loved how most of the competitors weren’t really racing against each other but more racing against their own best times,” remarked Lord. “Even if you fell, you’d get right back up again and cheer.”
The young ninja is described as “fearless” by her teachers at The Schoolhouse. Even when she climbs a tree or is perched on top of the swing set, Liz Shayne, head of school, said, “We have always known she has ninja powers and can get herself down safely.”
After watching the first episode, Shayne added, “Rose just makes it look effortless; she was cool as a cucumber, intensely focused and ended each round of competition with her beaming smile, all the way to the semifinals. Her humility, joy, and skill all shine through.”
Lord, who trains at the Regal Gymnastics’ Vermont Ninja Warrior Training Center in Essex, said in an episode 11 interview, “I see everything as an opportunity to jump on a tree and swing around. I definitely see obstacle courses everywhere. I feel like that has inspired me to be creative and have fun.”
Anne Mollo, Lord’s mother, concurred.
“Rose never stops training!” she said. “Whether at home with her pull-up bar, out in nature climbing trees and boulders, or at the gym twice a week.”
Almost 10 months after filming, Lord is still enthused about her experience.
“Watching myself on TV was strange, but it let me look back on the summer and remember how great it was. Even though I didn’t win the competition, it was amazing to be able to spend time with so many other kids who are also really into Ninja Warrior training,” said Lord, adding, “Being a ninja means being part of an awesome, really supportive community.”