She may be just 5-feet-tall and 100-pounds, but Kacy Catanzaro has proven she’s a force to reckon with time and time again on American Ninja Warrior. Nicknamed “Mighty Kacy”, the 27-year-old made headlines in 2014 for becoming the first woman to qualify for the finals of ANW. She’s also the only woman to complete a City Finals course– friend and fellow competitor Jessie Graff finished second on a city finals course in 2016 but that was based on the ‘farthest/fastest’ rule.
Tonight, Catanzaro will be competing in San Antonio and things are going to feel a bit different to ANW fans. For the first eight seasons of ANW, only 30 competitors moved to the city finals, and from there, only the top 15 moved on to the national finals, regardless of gender. This season, gender will be factored into the equation. There will be five women in each city final, and two per city in Vegas, with no wild cards. At this rate, it’s looking likely that Catanzaro will make it far on season 9.
Here’s what you should know about this inspirational athlete:
1. She Is the First Woman to Qualify for the Finals on ‘American Ninja Warrior’
In the sixth season of the show, Catanzaro became the first-only female athlete to beat the intermediate obstacle course. During the process, she also became the first woman to scale the “Warped Wall,” a 14-foot-high wall that competitors need to run up to tap the buzzer. (Kacy has said the warped wall is her favorite obstacle.)
At the Oklahoma City Qualifying Round last Spring, Casey failed to make it past the Log Runner obstacle. Luckily, she was able to advance because she was given a Wild Card spot in Vegas. When she did progress through to the National Finals, unfortunately, Kacy fell on the second obstacle, the Propeller Bar.
Most recently, Kacy hosted Team Ninja Warrior, and coached “Arrow” star Stephen Amell on an episode that aired last month.
2. She Works at an Obstacle Course Gym in San Antonio
Since 2013, Kacy has worked at an obstacle course gym in San Antonio, Texas, called Alpha Warrior, where she’s a managing partner along with co-competitor Brent Steffensen.
According to its website, the gym offers training and obstacle fitness to both civilians and military personnel around the world. The site reads, “Alpha Warrior Civilian is a new type of technical obstacle course that will push you in ways that you’ve never been pushed before. Breaking away from the mundane, having fun with your friends, and attempting obstacles you’ve rarely seen in real life.” The portion of the webpage for military personnel, meanwhile, reads, “The Alpha Warrior Military tour brings head-to-head competition to the ones who protect our country. Two day events are schedule throughout the country to bring the Battle Rig to military installations around the nation. The first day includes a meet and greet with the Alpha Warrior Pros followed by a competition the next day. Please check with the local military installation for times and directions.”
3. She Was a Division 1 College Gymnast
Catanzaro grew up in Glen Ridge, New Jersey, where she became a gymnast at the age of 5. In college at Towson University in Maryland, Catanzaro was a Division I gymnast. In 2012, her senior year, she was named the NCAA’s Southeast Regional Gymnast of the Year. That year, she was also named the 2012 Eastern College Athletic Conference Gymnast of the Year.
At Townson, Kacy studied early childhood education on an athletic scholarship.
4. She and Fellow Ninja Brent Steffensen Broke up in 2016
Despite the fact that Kacy and Brent broke up last year, they still train together, according to Yahoo.
The two spoke highly of one another during their romance. In 2015, one season after becoming the first woman to climb the warped wall, Kacy fell on the Cargo Crossing and wasn’t able to make it through to the Las Vegas finals. Brent, however, did make it through– the tables turned, because the previous season, Brent didn’t make it through when Casey had. She told the Hollywood Reporter:
I was worried about him and he was distracted by my success that he wasn’t really able to be too down on himself [last year] and I feel like that’s what happened to me this season… I didn’t make it and I was definitely heartbroken about that but Brent came back and redeemed himself with a second-place finish the first night and qualified. I was distracted being so happy for him that I wasn’t able to realize how heartbroken I was about me. But now that some time has gone by, every now and then it hits me; I’m bummed.
5. She’s Joining WWE
Kacy is bracing for a new challenge in her life: WWE. In an exclusive interview with USA Today, “For a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be brought to me a handful of times — I knew that it was rare, and I was getting older. I want to be somewhere where I can make the biggest impact I can.”
Speaking about other female competitors who have taken the stage since Kacy made her impressive run, she said, “I feel like I’ve made my history, I’ve made my friends (and) I’ve helped the next generation of girls be ready to take over, and they’re passing me!”