Kevin Carbone is taking his athletic skills, developed at Windward Academy and through years playing on ALTA’sJunior Leagues, to new heights on NBC’s “American Ninja Warrior.”
After submitting an audition video and not getting a call back earlier this year, the 21-year-old Alpharetta resident traveled to Daytona this summer and waited in line for three weeks to compete on the show as a walk-on. Finally, in June, Carbone was selected to run the course. Carbone’s performance in the first round, which aired July 26, landed him among the top 30 competitors, allowing him to advance to the second day of the two-day event. Day two of the competition aired Aug. 7 and Carbone landed a spot in the top 15. He will move on to the national finals in Las Vegas and compete for a chance to win $1 million.
In the first episode, Carbone got the surprise of a lifetime: the longtime Ninja Warrior fan got to compete — and defeat — an obstacle of his own design. Through the show’s Obstacle Design Challenge, Carbone designed and submitted Wingnuts, a sideways hanging obstacle that requires competitors to swing and jump from one rocking bar to the next. After hearing nothing about his submission for months, he received an email from NBC while in the walk-on line that they were considering using his design in the competition. A week later, he saw for himself once the Daytona course was revealed: his design would be the third in the course.
Though racked with nerves about the news, Carbone defeated his own obstacle, pushed through the entire course, and conquered it once more at the Daytona city finals. Regardless of the outcome of national finals, the memories he’s made this summer will always stick with him.
“I’m in Ninja heaven,” Carbone told Ninja Warrior Nation, the official fansite of “American Ninja Warrior.” “I say that I live a Ninja life. I always Ninja on random objects and buildings everywhere I go and it’s a blessing to be out here. I’m honored to have an obstacle.”
Carbone doesn’t hesitate to credit his time with ALTA as laying his athletic foundation, with neighborhood ALTA teams and playing singles as a kid building his confidence and teaching him how to stay focused and never give up.
“Windward Academy taught me exceptional footwork for tennis, which was a great basic skill and translated to Ninja perfectly,” he said. “I also gained a strong work ethic and tough grit for sports. The level of tennis was so high and the coaches pushed us very hard. I enjoyed every minute.”
He went on to be awarded Hustler of the Year at UGA tennis summer camp by coach Manny Diaz.
“Coaches Mike Bouchillon and Tim Smith at Country Club of the South really stressed technique, and nothing could be more important with Ninja completion than good technique,” he adds. “Competing at Ninja events, my opponent is the course, and I want to beat the course the same way I always wanted to win at tennis.”