Whether he realized it or not, Pleasanton's Seth Rogers has been training to become a ninja for his entire life.
From an early age, Rogers was scaling tall objects, and later on he developed a passion for competitive rock climbing, so to his mother Lecia Shaffer, it was no surprise to hear that he would be competing to become the next "American Ninja Warrior," during the TV show's Los Angeles qualifier -- an episode set to air nationally next Wednesday (May 29) on NBC.
"Seth has been climbing and jumping off things since I can remember," Shaffer told the Weekly. "I'm so happy he finally has the opportunity to try out the course and run alongside fellow ninja warriors he has looked up to and watched on TV for all these years."
For those unfamiliar with the show, "American Ninja Warrior" is a strength and endurance challenge based off the popular Japanese television series "Sasuke" -- named "Ninja Warrior" for American audiences -- which sees contestants run an increasingly difficult obstacle course, where even the strongest struggle.
The show is known for being notoriously difficult. While many have completed the qualifier course, out of the thousands of athletes who have competed during the U.S. show's 10-year history, only two contestants have ever completed the final challenge course and achieved total victory as an American Ninja Warrior.
"I always knew I wanted to try out for the show," Rogers said, a 19-year-old Foothill alumnus who was among approximately 600 people chosen out of 80,000 applicants for this year's qualifier. "It's just such an honor to be able to run the course and compete with the men and women I've looked up to for years. It's going to be surreal actually being on the course versus watching it on TV."
In preparation of the challenge, Rogers has been focusing on building his upper body strength and endurance training mainly through climbing, and honing his balance by walking on a slack line or rails.
When he is back home in the Bay Area -- he currently studies computer science at Colorado State University -- Rogers says he sharpens his skills at APEX NorCal, a "ninja warrior gym" in Concord run by veteran contestant Alan Connealy. At APEX, Rogers has been able to train with past competitors and even compete in adult competitions.
Rogers said he knows the competition is going to be steep, but he is looking forward to the opportunity to test out skills he has been developing for the majority of his life.
"First and foremost, I'm going to have fun," he said. "I want to use everything I have learned to do the best I can. I would love to finish the course, but in the end, I just want to utilize everything I have practiced and learned over the years and apply it on the course."
Seth Rogers appearance on Season 11 of "American Ninja Warrior," is scheduled for 8 p.m. May 29 on NBC.