American Ninja Warrior's Sandy Zimmerman hit the buzzer driven by a desire to inspire her children and students
Sandy Zimmerman created history when 'American Ninja Warrior' season 11 aired with its Seattle/Tacoma City qualifiers episode on Monday, June 24. Over the past seasons, contestants who have appeared on 'American Ninja Warrior' have created exceptional milestones and set amazing records.
However, this season, 42-year-old Zimmerman, a mother of three, set an impressive and inspirational milestone that no one else has done till date, making her feel proud of her achievement.
Zimmerman made history not only as the first woman to complete the course this season but also as the first mother to have ever climbed the warped wall and hit the buzzer. It was no easy feat but Zimmerman accomplished it.
In an exclusive interview with MEA WorldWide (MEAWW), Zimmerman shared that the American Ninja Warrior journey has been therapeutic for her and that it has helped her become mentally stronger. Zimmerman who is a physical education teacher, also said that she did this to be an inspiration to her kids and the students she teaches.
Zimmerman's spirit can be seen from the fact that this is the third time she has come on the show. Previously, she also took part in season 8 and season 9 but success eluded her. Season 10 got away from her after she suffered injuries in both her thumbs and knee.
But coming back stronger than ever in season 11, she created history. Talking about her biggest takeaway from this season, she says, "I think just doing American Ninja Warrior even before I hit the buzzer just helped me in building confidence and courage in me and it was the biggest thing that I've taken from this. That was just the three-year journey of ups and downs and discovering, that I still had a lot of scars and baggage that I was carrying around from my childhood that I had to work through."
Talking about her childhood, Zimmerman shared, "I was this scared timid shy quiet little girl that grew up poor and on welfare and spent time in the foster care system."
"For some reason, American Ninja Warrior has just been so therapeutic for me in becoming mentally stronger and I think that was probably the biggest difference. It was just my mindset going into this. And I did have like the long-term goal. I wanted to be the first mom to hit the buzzer since I knew it'd never been done and I just wanted that. I set my mind to do it despite all the ups and downs. It was the goal. But honestly, when I was on the course, I did not think about that."
"I was just trying to navigate the voices in my head and listening to the strong confident woman that I had become and not listening to that other voice," she said. "And what I'm really excited about is that I am listening to that woman. I was putting myself out there and I knew that I was doing something unbelievably hard and I knew this was just an incredible opportunity to grow and I knew that no matter whether I went out on the first obstacle or that I made it to the buzzer, that I was going to leave this competition a better person. I kept reminding myself of that when you put yourself out there, you will leave better no matter how it goes. And so that really helped me keep in the right frame of mind and the other part that really helped keep me in the right frame of mind is that I never thought about the end."
Despite undergoing surgery and having thoughts about quitting, Zimmerman revealed that she didn't because she wanted to set a good example for her children. "There were so many reasons why I should have quit, but I had too much to share with the world and too much impact I wanted to make through this sport and the example that I wanted to set for my kids to see. I just held on and so when that first day came when my doctor had said 'you're cleared'. I cried, I cried and I cried and I cried. I thought this is the day that kept me holding on to this moment."
She further added that she also did this for her students to show that one can accomplish anything if they have someone who believes in them. " I mean having someone in your life that believes in you, that gives the confidence and I guess that's why I'm so passionate. And now I want to give that to my students, I want to give it to the kids that come here. Can I be that for them that one moment when someone believes in you and gives you that moment that could change your life forever."
Zimmerman is not the only one in her family who has taken part in 'American Ninja Warrior.' Her two kids have also taken part previously and have applied to take part again this year. She revealed that her daughter Lindsay has gotten a callback and will be in the next season of 'American Ninja Warrior' juniors.
'American Ninja Warrior' airs every Monday night on NBC. Check your local listings for more information.