A typical week for senior Wesley Ricker demands a lot of balance and sacrifice.
Between going to the gym every day, climbing three times a week, interning at Agilent Technologies, an analytical chemistry company and working at the Delaware Rock Gym, Ricker is also training to become the next American Ninja Warrior.
Ricker, a 22-year-old chemical engineering major from Middletown, Del., welcomes the challenges of his arduous schedule as he prepares for Season 9 tryouts of the action-packed television series.
Aired on NBC, “American Ninja Warrior” follows competitors as they tackle a sequence of taxing obstacle courses in different leveled rounds. The winner takes home a $1 million grand prize — a prize only one competitor has succeeded in winning throughout the show’s history, completing all four stages of the final round in record time.
As part of the application process, Ricker sent in a three-minute promotional video highlighting his strength, agility and monkey-like climbing skills. He now waits for a callback anytime between March and May.
Ricker began rock climbing around the age of 14 and instantly became hooked. The hobby eventually sparked his interest in the grueling competition.
“I’m more about treating the rock wall as a playground, where I can really test what I can do,” he said.
After receiving encouragement from his friends and family time and again to try out for the show, Ricker finally went for it. He dedicated the past year to ninja warrior training, focusing especially on injury prevention exercises and a healthy diet change.
“You’re forced to sacrifice things left and right,” he said. “I’m 22. I want to hang out with my friends and go to the bar, but then I think maybe I should go to the gym or study instead.”
If Ricker acquires some downtime, he treats himself to a rewatch of “The Incredibles,” his favorite, quirky diversion.
“I’m really a giant nerd — I love ‘Star Trek’ and Disney movies,” he said. “I don’t think you really expect that out of someone who goes to the gym to train all the time — maybe you expect it out of a chemical engineer.”
Surrounded by his supportive family, Ricker constantly strives to put his best foot forward in all aspects of his life. Whether at the gym, at work or at school, he tries to present the leading version of himself. Whether he is eventually brought on the show or not, he hopes to, at the very least, wow his friends and family, while savoring the experience as a whole.
“At this point, maybe ‘American Ninja Warrior’ is my best,” he said. “It really just comes down to doing what you love to do and having fun with it, so that’s what I’m going to do.”