Batesville priest to compete on American Ninja Warrior

(Source: KAIT)
(Source: KAIT)
(Source: KAIT)
(Source: KAIT)
(Source: KAIT)
(Source: KAIT)

BATESVILLE, AR (KAIT) - A priest from Batesville will soon take his message nationwide by appearing on the NBC show, "American Ninja Warrior."

Father Stephen Gadberry is originally from Wynne and has been leading St. Mary's Catholic Church in Batesville for nearly a year now.

That is where you will see him most days, leading prayers and teaching behind the pulpit.

But during his downtime, Gadberry is working out.

"I've always loved doing stuff like a typical boy and I was always a busy-body," Gadberry said. "Fitness has been an avenue where I can constructively have that outlet of working and just exerting myself in a positive way."

That love for exercise and the encouragement of another athletic priest, Sean Bryan, known as the "Papal Ninja," led him to apply for American Ninja Warrior.

"The online application is a 10-page interview of sorts," Gadberry said. "There are all kinds of questions about your background, who you are, why you do what you do, why you want to do what you're hoping to do. In addition to the written application and the written answers, you have to do a video application where they can see first of all your physical ability because you have to at least do okay on the course but then they also want to see your personality."

Father Gadberry was one of about 120 people chosen from this region of the country to run the course in Dallas, TX.

That taping took place in March.

"We got to see the course beforehand but we can't see it, we can't test it," Gadberry said.

Although he said the physical aspect of the show did not surprise him, the mental strain was a bigger issue because he didn't want to let down his family and church members who were there to support him.

"Another thing that multiplies all that is that the filming takes place at night," Gadberry said. "That starts at 10:30 or so and goes until 7 a.m., so not only are you just wired, you're exhausted at the same time because you're up all night."

The members of his church are used to seeing Gadberry working out behind the church.

He mainly does CrossFit but didn't go to great lengths to change his workouts before the show.

"Actually I do most of my exercising just in the garage," Gadberry said. "It's a two-car garage but obviously priests are celibate so I've just got one car to park so the other side is for my exercise equipment and for my dog's toys."

He did use the church's swing set to make a small course to practice on.

The priest said this is his way of using the physical gifts God has given him to spread his message to a larger audience.

While Father Gadberry can't reveal his results before the show airs, he is already using his experience as a teaching lesson.

"It's an obstacle course, you've seen it, with one right after the other and you can't get to the second one until you've conquered the first but if you're too worried about the second or third one you're going to mess up on the first one," Gadberry said. "We all have obstacles in life. We all have problems, ups and downs, so learning to approach them one at a time and respect them but just go for them and if you fall, get up and try again."

The episode of American Ninja Warrior will air May 30 on NBC Region 8 at 7 p.m.

Copyright 2018 KAIT. All rights reserved.