When Conor Galvin received confirmation that he was going to compete on the high-octane obstacle course competition series “American Ninja Warrior,” he jumped for joy — literally.
“I couldn’t believe it — I did a backflip, I was just that excited,” he said.
Mr. Galvin, 24, of Baiting Hollow had applied to be on the television show for the past four years. This year, his hard work paid off, and in April he traveled to Baltimore to compete against 100 other athletes chosen from the northeast region.
“He was really determined,” his mother, Donna, said. “When he didn’t get called that first year, he got even more determined.”
Mr. Galvin has been doing gymnastics since he was 10, competing in the sport all throughout his time at Bishop McGann-Mercy High School and on the NCAA team at Springfield College in Massachusetts, where he majored in health science.
“I feel like I’ve been preparing my whole life, having done gymnastics,” he said. “Before the show I’ve kind of done obstacles on my own, always trying to make a challenge out of everything, no matter what athletic sport I was doing.”
Mr. Galvin said he has been a longtime fan of the show, which is now in its 11th season. He watched the popular Japanese version of the show “Ninja Warrior” in his younger years before it was adapted by the U.S. in 2009.
“When he was a little boy he started watching the show with his friends from gymnastics,” his mother said. “His eyes were so big — he loved it.”
Ever since then, Mr. Galvin said it’s been a goal of his to compete on the show.
“I’ve always been a huge fan,” he said. “It’s always been a dream of mine. I’ve always told my mom, ‘One day I’m going to compete on that, I’m going to do it — I swear,’ and to be able to compete this year was pretty awesome.”
At the city qualifying round Mr. Galvin competed in on April 28, the 100 athletes were put to the test on six obstacles that test their abilities in strength, agility, balance and grip. From those 100, the top 30 move onto the city finals, and from there the top 15 competitors advance to compete in the National Finals course in Las Vegas.
At the Nationals Finals course, which consists of four stages, a guaranteed $100,000 cash prize is offered. The player who advances the furthest on the course in the fastest time is declared the “Last Ninja Standing,” and wins the prize. If any competitor finishes all four stages, the prize money is augmented to $1 million.
Along with training to be on the show, Mr. Galvin is currently working to complete his doctorate in physical therapy at Sacred Heart University. He recently completed the first year of the three-year program.
“I’ve always loved athletics and trying to be as healthy as possible,” he said. “I wasn’t always sure I wanted to be a physical therapist, but I was always trying to help other people be healthy and move as much as possible.”
Though it may seem difficult, Mr. Galvin said he found a way to balance being a student and a ninja warrior.
“It’s definitely not an easy thing to do, but I found a way to work it into my schedule,” he said. “I’ve been an athlete my whole life, so I’ve been used to balancing — I think I just found a way to be really organized and that gives me time to train.”
For him, the best part of the experience was the support of his family and friends, about 20 of which came out to Baltimore with him to cheer him on.
“When you see the show on TV it’s one thing, but when you see the obstacles in person and all the cameras, the drones, and the excitement — watching him actually up there just made a mom so proud, knowing how hard it was for him to get there,” his mother said. “I had to practice not crying, so I wouldn’t cry on TV from being so excited.”
Even Mr. Galvin’s 93-year-old grandfather, Donald “Ducky” Walsh, made the trip to Baltimore to watch him compete.
“I feel like I wasn’t just running for myself out there,” Mr. Galvin said. “So many people have been rooting for me along this journey and know that I’ve been applying to be on this show these past couple years. I feel like I could finally accomplish this goal that a lot of people have had with me.”
Even though he’s unable to disclose anything about the results of the competition, Mr. Galvin said the experience is something he would without a doubt do again.
“I’m definitely going to finish graduate school because school is my No. 1 priority — but if I can get back on other seasons that would be amazing. It’s just a fun sport, and I want to do it as long as I can.”
The episode featuring Mr. Galvin will air July 1 at 8 p.m. on NBC.
Top photo caption: Conor Galvin of Baiting Hollow pictured competing on “American Ninja Warrior.” (Credit: William Gray/NBC)