When Donovan Metoyer was a high school athlete, his basketball coach told him he wasn’t good enough to make the team. Discouragement from an authority figure weighed heavily, and Metoyer switched his focus to track-and-field. But today, seemingly impassible obstacles make the ninja warrior athlete even more driven.
Metoyer is program director at MOTUS Ninja Warrior. As the expert ninja warrior on-staff, he develops lesson plans and class structure for the gym, and leads 30 classes per week. One of his biggest passions is to challenge students to consider their toughest physical challenges from an alternative angle.
“You’re not good enough – those words don’t ever leave my mouth,” Metoyer says. “It’s like this: Try it. Take your time. Come up with a different method. Practice it and repeat it. Then you’ll overcome this obstacle or whatever it is you’re going through in life.”
Metoyer discovered the sport of ninja warrior at the age of 17 when he saw the Japanese version of the show on TV. He knew he needed an opportunity to compete.
In 2013, he applied to American Ninja Warrior, qualified for season 5, and was a contestant on the TV series’ Denver episode. At the time, there weren’t any ninja warrior gyms in the Kansas City area, so Metoyer used whatever he could to simulate obstacles on the show. He practiced climbing skills on fire escape ladders and I-beams in parking garages and used a skating halfpipe as a warp wall.
Metoyer, a gentleman in real-life, goes by ‘The Classy Ninja’ on the show, competing in classic attire that makes him feel ready for anything – often a suit, sometimes a vest and tie combo. That first season, Metoyer learned that dress shoes and obstacles don’t mix when he lost his shoe on the rolling log, ending his run.
After several years of ups and downs, Metoyer considers 2017 to be the highlight of his ninja warrior career. He completed the course, ran third, and fell right before the warp wall. With the top competitors in the nation going after him, he thought there was no way he’d make it past the Kansas City finals to the national competition in Vegas.
But Metoyer finished 15th, earning the opportunity to compete with 98 of the top ninja warrior competitors at the Vegas finals in 2017.
“To be in that elite group is an honor and something to be admired,” Metoyer says. “You want to get back there.”
With that goal in sight, Metoyer is preparing his video submission for the chance to compete in 2019. Just getting on the show is a challenge in itself. Show producers receive approximately 40,0000 videos and will only invite a select number to compete for the chance to become the next American Ninja Warrior.
No matter the outcome in 2019, Metoyer is encouraged by his personal progress and the way he’s been able to reach others through the sport.
“I’ve come a long way, and I’m inspiring others to reach outside their comfort zone and try something new,” he says.
Ninja Warrior Words of Wisdom
“Focus on what you’re doing. Don’t look to the right when you’re on the warp wall to see if your mom is watching.”
“When you’re young and you fall, you get embarrassed in front of everyone. Everyone on American Ninja Warrior has fallen at some point. It’s okay to fall. Just get back up.”
“You can’t develop if you stay within your comfort zone.”
“Find someone to chase. It’s going to make you stronger.”