Stillwater Ninjas Eye World Championships

Tuesday, August 4th 2020, 7:50 pm

Like so many other businesses, Next Level Ninjas in Stillwater hit a wall when they were forced to shut down.

But the group is back at it again, training for a competition that will bring the world's best ninjas together.

"Who doesn't want to be a ninja?" asked Next Level Ninjas Owner Lauren Lewis.

It's a fair question. First off, there's the bragging rights.

 "Oh, it's super great. I'm like, look at me, I'm a ninja," said Jaedyn Lopp, the #1 ranked women's amateur ninja.

There are also the health benefits.

"Three years ago, I was actually 100 pounds heavier than I am now, and I just wanted to get in better shape," said Josh Bieri of Next Level Ninjas, who also competes. 

And for Wade Lopp, a former gymnast, it was a lifeline.

"I had a severe allergic reaction to some antibiotics, and I actually ended spending a week in the hospital," said Lopp, who is the #2 ranked men's amateur. "I had all but died. My ability to work out for long periods of time was destroyed."

What started out as a way back for Wade has turned into a climb for a championship.

The competitions look somewhat like what you would see on American Ninja Warrior, but there are no water pits and ninjas keep going even if they fall. Ninjas get points for how many obstacles they conquer.

Some of the best amateur ninjas in the world train here, and now twelve of them are going to compete at the world championships in Las Vegas next month.

Lauren Lewis: "Not only are we vying to be some of the best in America, but we're trying to literally be some of the best in the world."

But they're also victims of their own success.

The twelve ninjas are the most they've sent in 3 years, but that costs a lot of money, so the gym started a GoFundMe campaign.

"The worst feeling in the world is to put in all that work, qualify for worlds, and then not being able to go because you can't afford it," said Bieri.

If you'd like to help these ninjas navigate their way to Vegas, you can visit their fundraising page here.


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