LACEY – Township teenager Ava Colasanti proved her worth as an extreme athlete having appeared on a recent episode of the NBC TV series American Ninja Warrior.
For the 16-year-old, competing on the American Ninja Warrior Championship series – currently in its 13th season – has been the dream of a lifetime.
The Lacey High School student’s motto is “savage” and she recently showcased her athletic talent and perseverance on the show overcoming a variety of challenges as part of the competition.
Ava wore her pink “savage” T-shirt during the filming of the show. She said “savage” became her battle cry and motto due to her tireless training in the last five years in various gyms and training camps.
“She is the savage ninja,” her mother, Kim Colasanti said. “You can’t spell ‘savage’ without Ava. Her favorite color is pink so that is what she wears.”
Her mother told The Southern Ocean Times that her daughter appeared on the July 12 episode of American Ninja Warrior for her qualifying round. She qualified for her region among the top five women.
“She was very excited to have been able to live her dream of being on American Ninja Warrior. She is so happy that she made it to the semifinals. We will have to watch her run and see if she ultimately makes it to finals in Las Vegas,” her mom added.
Her mother said Ava wasn’t happy about her qualifying run but her fast time got her into the semifinals. “The training then got harder. She had to start training more at night knowing she was going to L.A. and may have to compete later than 10 p.m.”
Overall the teen enjoyed her experience but at times it was very stressful. “She had to keep up with her schoolwork and even had to be homeschooled on the set. She said it wasn’t at all what she expected especially because of COVID and having to be tested multiple times and she wasn’t allowed to socialize with her competitors,” her mother added.
Ava enjoyed “the experience of the production, the interviews and the photo shoots, although she wished it were at times less about TV and more about the competition,” her mother said.
The teen spent a lot of her time training at Centercourt Athletic Club in Chatham and has also participated in cross country running as part of her high school team.
The competition requires a number of skills as athletes run, jump, climb and face a variety of obstacles that they need to size up without much or any warning of what they are facing.
The game show’s new season started May 31 and has an average viewership of 35 million. Some commercials promoting its return featured Ava. The series includes some of the country’s most elite athletes who must overcome some very difficult obstacle courses.
Ava is among more than 400 competitors and was ranked fifth among elite females in the National Ninja League standings. Among the categories she competed in recently was a tilt-a-whirl.
The Lacey teen recently helped raise funds for Tyler Keats, a former township resident now living in Florida who is fighting a genetic disorder. Her fundraiser for Keats, who has Leukodystrophy, a progressive brain disease, involves the sale of her “savage” T-shirts. Those who wish to become part of her Team Savage benefit can visit her Bonfire Page where the shirts are being sold.
“He is 9 and walks with a walker and gets around outside of the house mostly with a wheelchair. He was our neighbor in Lacey and we have been able to still keep in touch although they have moved. Ava is inspired by his strength and his ability to overcome is daily obstacles,” Kim Colasanti said.
An interview with Ava was shot at the family home by the producers prior to the airing of the 13th season and it was not clear as to when that segment would air. “I’m not sure how that works. They gave us some answers but not all the answers,” her mother said.
During a prior interview with The Southern Ocean Times, Ava and her parents were unsure what they were allowed to tell the media concerning her onscreen adventure.
Her mother did say though that “if she can’t work through an obstacle, she’ll keep working at it. Her hands are often bloody. This has been her life. (Ninja training). It has taken over and it has become a lot of our life as well.”
“It has been quite an adventure, moreso for my husband because he became her coach through a lot of this especially during the pandemic when she couldn’t actually compete and when he got back into the gym, because at first the parents were told we couldn’t go in with them, so my husband became Coach Ralph and he coaches a lot of the kids and if they can survive Coach Ralph they can survive anything,” she said.
Kim Colasanti said, “we both work in medicine and he works as a sales representative for Johnson & Johnson. I do orthopedics for a living. Ava really enjoys this and it was something different. Not everyone knows about the Ninja competition which is more than the TV show. She likes the fact that she excels at something that is different from everyone else. It has built up her confidence.”
Ava will continue to appear on American Ninja Warrior as the competition progresses. Her mom said, “she will be moving onto semi-finals which we think will air on August 23 but we’re not exactly 100% sure about that.” The series airs at 8 p.m. Monday nights on NBC.