Kacy Catanzaro is competing for a third season on American Ninja Warrior. She made history last season by becoming the first female competitor to reach the top of the 14-ft. warped wall and also became the first and only woman to earn a spot to the Las Vegas finals by completing a city finals course.
Failure can be defined by lack of success. But is it necessarily a bad thing? Life tells us you can learn from failure and can make you stronger if you don’t let it tear you down.
American Ninja Warrior 5 in Venice Beach was my first season competing on the show, and I made it to the fifth obstacle, which is right before the warped wall. I knew no woman had completed a qualifying course before and was so close to accomplishing my goal. Even though I failed to complete the course, I used that failure to fuel my training for the next season.
With the guidance of Brent Steffensen, I stepped up my training for season 6 and hit the jackpot in the Dallas qualifiers. I was the first woman in American Ninja Warrior history to defeat the 14-foot warped wall and finish a qualifying course. I was on top of the world and soon reached another huge goal when I finished the City Finals course as well, which was also the first for a woman. The feeling of completing those courses was indescribable elation. What others thought was impossible, I now knew was doable.
Failure. Success. Failure. Success. Failure.
Failure is definitely a never-ending cycle. I failed, came back and succeeded, and now here I am again back at failure. I returned this year with high hopes and expectations. Now I’m extremely disappointed I didn’t live up to them.
Coming into this season, I knew that there would be much more attention on me. It is such an amazing feeling when so many people believe in you and want you to do well. However, it also adds to the anxiety of not succeeding when so many people are expecting you to repeat and/or exceed your past accomplishments.
I came into this season excited and prepared, both physically and mentally. Looking at the Houston course, I was confident that I could hit that buzzer again. I took a few deep breaths and attacked the course. I easily handled the first three obstacles and even on the beginning of the fourth, the cargo crossing. When I got to the bar at the end of the cargo net and was ready to make the jump; however, I started to realize how far of a jump it actually was to that next bar. I was trying to build up my momentum, but each big swing forward sent the frame of the obstacle crashing that much harder on my backswing, which really quashed my momentum. I knew I couldn’t just keep swinging there forever, so I had to make the leap and, sadly, failed to reach the next bar.
I was devastated when I hit that water. All I could think about was all of the people I didn’t want to let down. Even though I fell short, I will not let that define who I am or limit my capabilities.
Luckily, I did have a distraction from my failure. I was so happy for Brent Steffensen’s redemption run that it did slightly ease the pain. Brent made history on season 4 by becoming the first American to conquer the ultimate cliffhanger on stage 3 and was the furthest American that season. He had an early exit last season, so I’m really glad that he was able to come back even stronger and finish the course with the second-fastest time. He didn’t let failure keep him down and proved to be a huge inspiration to many.
Brent reminded me to use your failures as stepping stones for success. I am going to take that advice and keep training with the hopes of a wild-card spot to the Vegas finals.
American Ninja Warrior airs Mondays (8 p.m. ET) on NBC.