The Awalts' house in Brookfield has a playground any kid would envy.
“They’re like wow,” said 10-year-old Sky Awalt about her friend’s reactions to her back yard. “And then they just run to it.”
For most kids, it’s playtime, but Sky isn’t most kids. She’s an aspiring American Ninja Warrior and her back yard is her gym.
“All we had, I think, was a playset,” said Sky’s mom, Candice Awalt. “But then little by little it was like well, let’s build her this.”
Little by little, Sky’s dad Kevin Awalt built the sprawling structure. He started the project when Sky first got interested in obstacle course racing when she was 4.
“I was a little too young for it but I really wanted to do it,” said Sky. She did gymnastics at Ninja Mania in Danbury and when the introduced kids classes, which she was still about two years too young to join, she proved her strength to the coaches.
“They said if I could do most of the stuff in there, then I could go in,” said Sky. She did.
Now her back yard is part training course, party trophy case. Many of the handholds are trophies she’s won at competitions. The ones she and mom, Candice have driven hours for almost every weekend.
“My cutoff is Massachusetts one way and New Jersey the other way,” said Candice.
Except when it isn’t. Sky and her family had a chance to go to Los Angeles to compete in American Ninja Warrior Junior. Her episode will air Friday at 6 p.m. on Universal Kids.
“It was another level of nervous,” said Sky. “When that buzzer goes, I just go and do what I love to do.”
A long way from her back yard gym. The one that she now feels so grateful to have. Her gym, along with all others across the state, now closed amid Coronavirus concerns.
You can just call that another obstacle. Sky loves those.
“Sometimes the first times are frustrating,” Sky said about learning a new challenge. “But each time I get closer and closer I’m like falling is a good thing. Let’s try again.”