Young ‘ninja’ awaits her TV debut

Peyton Sherrill trains for hours each week to perfect her runs to be the best that she can be in the new sport.

Peyton Sherrill crosses on the monkey bars in her ninja set on Oct. 2 (Krystal Nurse/The Sun).


The Sun

Mullica Hill resident Peyton Sherrill has been training long and hard to be on “American Ninja Warrior” since she first saw the show in 2013 when she was 7. Now, at 12 years old, with a younger version of the popular show being created, she knew she had to get her parents to sign her up.

“I’ve been waiting until I was old enough to go on the show, and when they actually made something for kids, we were pretty excited about it,” said Peyton. “We were like ‘we have to get into this.’”

She trained at MaxFit Sports in Glassboro with a coach who goes by the name of “Jedi.” He, she and her mom, Heather, work with her tight schedule to make sure she gets the best possible training.

“He has always done a great job of making special classes for us that fit our time,” said Heather. “Leading up to the competition, he did some private lessons where he would come out here and train her and then she did [private lessons with Dayna Fisher] at the Movement Lab.”

“Whenever I would compete against somebody, if they’re better than me, I had to beat them,” said Peyton. “I always had to be at the top of my game. I trained myself to almost in the way of, if somebody was good, I need to train myself to be better.”

When she’s not with her coach training, she’s out in her backyard on two condensed ninja sets that her dad, Mark, built in two weeks, which she said didn’t take much convincing to get.

12-year-old Peyton Sherrill walks across a tightrope in her customized ninja set on Oct. 2 (Krystal Nurse/The Sun).

“I think we all enjoy watching the show,” said Heather. “If we’re going to enjoy it, it was going to be something big enough for us all to play on.”

They add the structure has gotten attention in their neighborhood with kids coming over and asking to play on the equipment.

When she was younger, Peyton said she would run around and try to balance on anything she could find, play on the monkey bars, cartwheel and try to get a grip onto as many things as possible.

Besides competing in the new “American Ninja Warrior Junior,” Peyton has participated in regional competitions against kids in her age group.

“I did it twice and qualified both years in local competitions and only one year we were able to go to the finals,” said Peyton.

“The first year she qualified and we went out because it was in Connecticut,” added Heather. “Then last year, it was somewhere around Detroit, Mich., in February and we didn’t want to drive through all of the snow and everything.”

She recalls the National Ninja League competition ending around the second round due to people falling and not completing the course, which can look more painful than how it feels.

Peyton Sherrill balances herself on the tightrope to move to the ring toss on Oct. 2 (Krystal Nurse/The Sun).

While she cannot discuss the details of her run, Peyton said the course itself was great to run on and gave her experience on the official design.

“It wasn’t just the obstacles we had out back, it was these were ‘American Ninja Warrior’ designed obstacles, just scaled down to a smaller size,” said Peyton. “It was amazing to compete on them.”

When she gets older, Peyton hopes to become like her coach and help younger kids who seek to get into the new sport.

“I like seeing people younger than me be really good because it’s like ‘that’s so cool how young they are, they must have so much determination to do it,’” said Peyton.

For now, the Sherrill family waits with excitement for the premiere of Peyton’s episode. “American Ninja Warrior Junior” premieres on Universal Kids on Oct. 13 at 7 p.m. Check your local listings.