Many of us at Mayo Clinic enjoyed watching Andrew Yori—a.k.a. the K9 Ninja—compete on American Ninja Warrior. We introduced you to Andrew, a lab technician at Mayo's Rochester campus, in April, when he was preparing for a qualifying event in Indianapolis. And we followed him as he moved ahead in the competition, eventually making it to the season finals in Las Vegas. Unfortunately, he didn't get a chance to try climbing Mount Midoriyama, as he was taken down by the dreaded Jumping Spider.
Now that his run is over, we caught up with Andrew to get his reflections on the experience and hear what's next for our favorite competitor. He tells us the competition taught him lessons that can be applied beyond an obstacle course. For one: You never know what you can do until you try. "I never expected to make it to Vegas, though I hoped to," he says. "The only way to find out what you can do is to give it a shot."
So what else did tackling obstacles like the Rolling Log and Fly Wheels teach him? "You can never really be prepared for everything," he says. "And things don't always go how you want them to." (Sounds like one we can apply.) That being said, Andrew tells us he also was reminded that failure is part of the process necessary to learn and grow "so you can keep moving forward."
And moving forward is what Andrew plans to do. He hopes to compete again next season on American Ninja Warrior. And he's counting on his friends at Mayo Clinic Sports Medicine to help him get there. The team helped him rehab a shoulder injury last spring, and he's working with them again to get ready to train for what he hopes will be a second shot in the competition. He's hoping his strong rookie performance—combined with his compelling platform as an advocate for shelter dogs—will increase his chance of being chosen again. "People seemed to enjoy my message," he tells us, adding that the show "helped spread awareness for dog adoption beyond what I was expecting."
Andrew is grateful for that, and for the support he's received from family, friends and colleagues. "My coworkers and Mayo in general have been really supportive," he says. "Knowing I have so many people in my corner is huge."
"The Dog Pound" (as show hosts called Andrew's fans) now also includes other of the show’s veterans, many of whom Andrew keeps in touch with online. Though the contestants are all focused on the same goal, Andrew says it's a supportive community. "We're all in competition with the course, not with each other," he says. "Just because you finish the course and hit the buzzer, doesn't mean that someone else can't." Sounds like another life lesson to us.