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The Literary Ninja

With+the+support+of+Southern+Lehigh%E2%80%99s+staff+and+students%2C+Mr.+Castagna+might+just+appear+on+the+show%E2%80%99s+eighth+season+and+be+crowned+the+next+American+Ninja+Warrior.
With the support of Southern Lehigh’s staff and students, Mr. Castagna might just appear on the show’s eighth season and be crowned the next American Ninja Warrior.

With the support of Southern Lehigh’s staff and students, Mr. Castagna might just appear on the show’s eighth season and be crowned the next American Ninja Warrior.

Emily Oberlender

Emily Oberlender

With the support of Southern Lehigh’s staff and students, Mr. Castagna might just appear on the show’s eighth season and be crowned the next American Ninja Warrior.

Emily Oberlender, News Editor

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In the beginning of the Literary Ninja’s three-minute long video, a man is seen dangling from hanging rings, throwing javelins, and climbing bars through various obstacle courses. In the next frame, we see a familiar face standing shirtless, crossing his arms in slow motion with rock music blaring in the background. The self-proclaimed “Literary Ninja” is none other than Southern Lehigh English teacher Mr. Joseph Castagna.

On October 4, Mr. Castagna uploaded his self-made American Ninja Warrior audition tape onto YouTube. In early November, senior Fiona Bultonsheen discovered the video. Since then, the video’s views have skyrocketed.

“I absolutely 100 percent did not expect students to find the video. It was a huge surprise,” Mr. Castagna said. “Over the summer, my daughter and I became obsessed with American Ninja Warrior. I thought it would be kind of fun to make the video and audition for the show. You know, just to see what happens.”

Along with training almost every day of the week and regularly participating in Spartan races, Castagna has built many of American Ninja Warrior’s common obstacles in his backyard.

“I’ve built a salmon ladder, rings, a climbing rope, traverse rope, and a slack line,” he said. “Over winter, I’m adding an unstable bridge and some bars I can swing from.”

The audition, which is designed to be a humorous interview, features Mr. Castagna’s four-year old daughter, Lorelai, participating in Spartan races with her father and even practicing pushups with him by her side.

Joseph Castagna
Mr. Joseph Castagna finds stiff competition with his four-year old daughter, Lorelai.

“That kid wants to beat me at everything!” he said.

Throughout the audition tape, Mr. Castagna shows footage of himself doing pushups and tricep dips on the desks in his classroom. He even proceeds to lift a desk over his head, which was math teacher Mr. Ryan Haupt’s idea.

“The first time I saw the video, I realized he was using my desk for pushups,” sophomore Sidnee Moyer said. “I freaked out. I mean, how could I not?”

Even though the video was discovered and shared by students, more than just freshmen, sophomores, juniors, and seniors have watched it. Teachers and staff members throughout the building, including our school principal Mrs. Christine Siegfried, have also enjoyed Mr. Castagna’s audition tape.

“It is hilarious,” Mrs. Siegfried said. “My favorite part has to be him in the classroom. Or maybe the fact that he took it as far as building the salmon ladder in his backyard.”

While this is the first time the 34-year old has auditioned for American Ninja Warrior, completing obstacle courses and races isn’t something the teacher’s unfamiliar with.

“I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t into fitness,” Mr. Castagna said. “I’ve been exercising regularly for over 20 years, and have been training specifically for obstacle racing for the past year.”

American Ninja Warrior is a popular TV show in which multiple athletes compete to conquer “the world’s most difficult obstacle course.” The show, which accepts 700 applicants each season, receives more than 70,000 applications.

Considering the show only accepts one percent of their applicants, will we be seeing Mr. Castagna tackle the course? The answer lies within the next few months.

“I’ll probably know the results in January if they pick me,” Mr. Castagna said. “I certainly think you’re more likely to be chosen if you’re a known commodity. If there is some level of popularity, you’re a safe bet to put on the show because they know people will want to watch it.”

 

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The Literary Ninja