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Local News

Glen Ellyn resident proud of accomplishments despite fall on 'American Ninja Warrior'

Kyle Schulze was first deaf ninja warrior to make it to finals

Glen Ellyn resident Kyle Schulze, who is deaf, competed on the television show "American Ninja Warrior." While he was training, Schulze sprained his right ankle, an injury that occurred only 2 1/2 weeks before the finals round. As a result, he fell during his first obstacle during the finals round and was disqualified.
Glen Ellyn resident Kyle Schulze, who is deaf, competed on the television show "American Ninja Warrior." While he was training, Schulze sprained his right ankle, an injury that occurred only 2 1/2 weeks before the finals round. As a result, he fell during his first obstacle during the finals round and was disqualified.

GLEN ELLYN – Glen Ellyn resident Kyle Schulze's performance in the national finals round on the television show "American Ninja Warrior" was not what he hoped it would be.

The 2008 Glenbard West High School graduate was the first deaf ninja warrior to make it to the national finals. The NBC show follows competitors as they tackle a series of obstacle courses in both city qualifying and city finals rounds across the country.

While he was training, Schulze sprained his right ankle, an injury that occurred only 2 1/2 weeks before the finals round. As a result, he fell during his first obstacle of the finals round and was disqualified.

"I knew the injury was going to inhibit my performance in the finals, but I still went and I still had a great time out there," said Schulze, who proudly goes by the nickname "Deaf Ninja."

The episode showing Schulze's appearance in the finals aired Aug. 27. The show was recorded in the middle of June. He also appeared on the show last year but didn't make it to the finals.

"I knew I was going to fall, but I still tried," Schulze said.

His mother, Laura Schulze, said she is proud of all her son's accomplishments and the fact that he chose to still compete in the finals round despite his injury.

"I'm very proud of everything he's done," she said. "We just didn't want to see it injured worse. He is getting better slowly. It just takes time."

During the Aug. 6 episode of the show, Kyle Schulze competed in the Indianapolis City Finals and emerged among the top 15 contestants to advance to the national finals in Las Vegas. The episode was taped April 29.

Schulze works at the Trader Joe's store in Glen Ellyn and also is a coach at the Chicago Ninja Academy in West Chicago. He coaches adults and children and recently helped to host a deaf day at the academy for deaf adults and children and children of deaf adults.

He was born with a severe to profound hearing loss. Schulze has tried to educate people about the deaf community, including teaching sign language to his fellow contestants on "American Ninja Warrior."

"I was able to develop friendships and teach people about the American Sign Language community," he said.

Schulze also is proud he has helped inspire others in the deaf community.

"I just came back from Kentucky for a deaf festival in Louisville, and there are another couple of events coming up," he said. "I talk to the fans and other people and just kind of give them something to look up to."

And Schulze hopes to be on "American Ninja Warrior" again next season.

"It's back to square one," he said, confidently. "I'm the sole deaf ninja that made it to the ninja finals. Hopefully there will be some more deaf people who compete next season. That would be pretty cool, that I was able to inspire other people to step up and try to see what they can do."

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