PT Student Competes in American Ninja WarriorApril 4, 2019
Alyssa Varsalona, CSCS (PT '21) competed against about 100 athletes in the Southeast
region in the March competition.
First year Doctor of Physical Therapy student Alyssa Varsalona, CSCS (PT ’21) “had an amazing time” as she recently competed
for an ultimate $1 million prize in the "American Ninja Warrior" competition held
March 24 and 25.
To be considered for the show, Varsalona was one of about 70,000 applicants who submitted
a three minute video audition along with a 25 question essay application. In the March
competition, this former gymnast competed against about 100 other athletes in the
Southeast region. Unfortunately, she is bound by a contract to keep the results a
secret until the June 5 episode airs, but she is all smiles!
Varsalona calls herself the “Never Quit Ninja” as she has had five knee surgeries
in the past seven years. She decided to apply for the competition while recovering
from her fifth knee surgery. “I saw the show on TV and thought it looked awesome and
I just had to try it. In fact, my aspiration to compete in the competition served
as my motivation to work as hard as I could to regain my strength, balance and agility.”
These same knee surgeries provided the impetus for her to pursue a degree in physical
therapy. “My first physical therapist was so instrumental to my recovery and I want
to be that person who is able to help athletes overcome their injuries and achieve
their dreams,” she said.
“As an American Ninja Warrior, I hope to be an inspiration to athletes or anyone who
is struggling with an injury, showing them that if I can get past all of my injuries,
then they can too. I also want to serve as a role model for young athletes and demonstrate
that women can be strong too.”
Prior to the competition, Varsalona participated in competitive gymnastics for ten
years. She competed at level nine for two years, and began to train at level ten before
being stymied by her knee injuries. After retiring from gymnastics, she participated
in competitive cheerleading and ran track where she sprinted and pole vaulted.
“In my future as a physical therapist, I can use my experiences and my platform on
American Ninja Warrior to develop injury prevention protocols and advocate for the
importance of rehabilitation,” Varsalona explained.
“This was hands down the greatest experience I have ever had,” she said. “I’m still
on cloud nine and I can’t even believe that it really happened – it all feels like
She explained that the show films throughout the night and “the lights are so bright,
the crowd is so loud, and there are cameras everywhere. I was so nervous to be competing
with some of the greatest ninja veterans as a rookie, but as soon as I stepped onto
the course and heard the crowd going crazy, my nerves disappeared,” she said.
The top 30 overall plus the top five female athletes advance to the city finals. At
city finals, the top 12 overall plus the top two women advance to the national finals
which are held in Las Vegas, Nevada, where competitors tackle a four-stage course
modeled after the Mt. Midoriyama course in Japan. The winner takes home a grand prize
of $1 million.
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Established in 2005, PCOM Georgia is a private, not-for-profit, accredited institute of higher education dedicated
to the healthcare professions. The Suwanee, Georgia, campus is affiliated with Philadelphia
College of Osteopathic Medicine, a premier osteopathic medical school with a storied
history. PCOM Georgia offers doctoral degrees in osteopathic medicine, pharmacy, and
physical therapy and graduate degrees in biomedical sciences, medical laboratory science,
and physician assistant studies. Emphasizing "a whole person approach to care," PCOM
Georgia focuses on educational excellence, interprofessional education and service
to the wider community. The campus is also home to the Georgia Osteopathic Care Center,
an osteopathic manipulative medicine clinic, which is open to the public by appointment.
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