Hit the Buzzer – SRQist :: SRQ Magazine Article by Chloe Cuyler
Enzo Deferrari Wilson goes from an ordinary teenager to the story of American Ninja Warrior.
SRQ Review | december 2021
In Leisure + Sports
Enzo Deferrari Wilson trains until dark in the backyard of his family home. Photo by Wes Roberts.
Learn to drive. Go on a first date. These are the first experiences of ordinary adolescents. Not Enzo Deferrari Wilson. The 15-year-old is anything but ordinary, becoming the youngest competitor in history American Ninja Warrior. Enzo, a Palm Harbor native who attends NewGate School remotely in Sarasota, experienced a series of unimaginable firsts in American Ninja Warrior. Rookie and fastest teenage competitor from the first episode. The youngest to make it to Las Vegas and to the National Finals. The youngest to hit the buzzer and reach the second stage (of four) of the national final.
How exactly did all these superlatives come about? How do you go from being a normal teenager – going to high school and studying – to a high-flying, record-breaking Ninja Warrior competitor? It all started 10 years ago, when Enzo was only 5 years old. Her grandmother introduced her to the hit NBC TV show American Ninja Warrior and it was love at first sight. “From the moment I saw the show, I was hooked,” he says. “I knew I wanted to be a part of it when I grew up. With that goal in mind, Enzo began his journey into elite athletics at the age of 11 – training hard at the Jungle Gym in Pinellas Park and the Obstacle Ninja Academy in Orlando – and shortly thereafter he competed in his first obstacle course competition in Bradenton.
The teenage ninja never predicted that only a decade later his dream of appearing on his favorite show would come true. But as the age limit for the show began to decrease steadily from 21 to 19, and then eventually to 15, it became clear that this could happen sooner rather than later. And so on, after just four years of hard work and pure, unadulterated dedication, Enzo became the youngest competitor to ever groom the stage of American Ninja Warrior, setting incredible records and creating memories that he says always seem surreal. His favorite would be to hit the buzzer during the first qualifying leg in Las Vegas. “It’s a tough course,” he says. “He’s taking out some of the best ninjas. So being able to finish that and stand on the platform with the buzzer, thinking back to what I had just done – knowing that I had just finished this course – was the craziest feeling of my life.
And if competing against adults in an action-packed, high-flying show, when he’s not even old enough to get a driver’s license, wasn’t already an incredible feat, Enzo is, too. the founder of ONE (Ocean Needs Everyone), an ocean conservation program dedicated to cleaning up our beautiful beaches and raising awareness on the subject. Regardless of age, Enzo reminds us that doubting ourselves to reach our full potential will only keep us from hitting our own buzzer. “If be sure American Ninja Warrior at 15, he proved everything to me, “he says,” is that no matter what you dream of doing, anything is possible. If you don’t try, there is a 100% chance that you will fail.