AUSTIN (KXAN) — She calls herself the Hot Pink Ninja.
Marie Young, a 14-year-old from Pflugerville, is headed to New Mexico this week to compete in the finals of a ninja obstacle course competition in the style of “American Ninja Warrior.”
Young practices and works at Austin Ninjas, an obstacle gym in north Austin that opened at the beginning of the year.
Now in its 10th season, ANW remains a popular series on NBC, drawing millions of young viewers every week. That’s how Young was first exposed to the increasingly popular sport.
“One thing I’ve never really picked up easily is athletics,” she said.
But after watching the show with her dad for years, and after rock climbing for a few months, Young decided to give it a shot.
“We didn’t have the backyard obstacle course, we didn’t have any of that,” her mom, Kate Young, said. “We do now.”
Young fell in love with the obstacle courses and after just a few months training, she qualified for the Ultimate Ninja Athlete Association’s finals in Albuquerque starting Thursday. The competition brings together hundreds of athletes from across the U.S., Canada, the U.K. and Australia.
She calls herself the Hot Pink Ninja, but she’s struggled to find local role models she can relate to. “All the people that I train with are all male,” Young said. “They’re all teenage guys.”
The last couple weeks, she’s been training with ANW ninjas, including Houston’s three-time competitor Barclay Stockett.
“I’ve gotten to work with Marie a lot and she is such a beast,” Stockett, a professional ninja, said Friday, her last day at the gym before moving on to her next gig in another city.
Stockett’s next episode, the competition in Dallas, airs Monday on KXAN. She said if Marie sticks with it, working on her strength and technique, “she’s going to be unstoppable.”
Marie intends to keep training and plans to submit her application to ANW just as soon as she turns 19. She’s used to doing things other people don’t.
The Hot Pink Ninja finished her project to receive the Girl Scouts Gold Award, the highest achievement in the organization, earlier this year as a high school freshman. Most scouts don’t get theirs until they’re juniors or seniors.
“If she comes across an obstacle,” Kate Young said, “she will figure out how to get through it, around it, over it, or under it.”
It’s that never-give-up spirit that Marie brings to the ninja obstacle courses.
“Anyone can do this ninja stuff, no matter what you look like,” she said. “And you can put 100 percent into everything you do and to just persevere through it, have the courage and the confidence to do whatever you need to do.”
Young will compete in the 10-13-year-old girl category on Friday.