Hillsborough 10-year-old competing in American Ninja Warrior Junior

HILLSBOROUGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- John David Spatola, 10, grew up playing basketball, soccer, all kinds of sports until he found his favorite.

"It was like one of those goldilocks things where it was like basketball, soccer, ninja just right for me," Spatola said. "Some days I get this feeling where I'm like, after a day or so of no ninja or hanging I get this feeling in my body where I'm like I need to hang! It's like I have so much energy and hanging, doing ninja is the perfect thing for that. "

"As any parent you want your child to find something that they love, that they're passionate about," said John David's dad, Chris Spatola. "When that thing promotes physical fitness, self confidence, a community--which the ninja sport does--it's a perfect storm of something for your child. So we couldn't be happier."

After two years of trying ninja John David auditioned for the television show American Ninja Warrior Junior and was selected out of thousands of kids for the show. He and his family traveled to Los Angeles last July to film for four days as he competed with 47 other kids in the 9-10 age division.

"This was as surreal an experience my wife and I had ever experienced," Chris Spatola said. "You're kids take you to places you never thought you would go and so we were standing on the sides each time he ran and we would look at each other like can you believe we're in Los Angeles filming a television show that our son brought us to? We didn't force him into it or anything. He was just like, 'I want to do this.'"

While stuck in quarantine waiting for his episode to air (it airs May 22) John David is still managing to stay active using his backyard as an obstacle course.

"I'm very fortunate to have a backyard set and I have tons of things out there," he said. "Sometimes I change out the sets with straps and handholds to make like what I have to train on, something I have to get better at."

"We were going to have a monster viewing party, before COVID-19, with all of our friends, family. We were going to have them over to the house and have a big time viewing party," said Chris Spatola. "There are some things I don't want to tell you now because he's sitting right here, but we've got some things up our sleeve to celebrate how big a moment it is."

American Ninja Warrior Junior airs at 6 p.m. Fridays on Universal Kids. John David will be part of the May 22 episode.
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