Tuesday, April 18, 2017

The Real Routine: Trent Jarrett - Gymnast to Ninja

Overcoming obstacles is nothing new for Trent Jarrett, former Division I gymnast for the University of Illinois at Chicago and American Ninja Warrior competitor.  Diagnosed with dyslexia and a hearing impairment as a child, Trent proved that no matter what obstacles face you in life, you can overcome them.  We were truly inspired by Trent's story, and we think you will be too!

Tell us a little about your early life, discovering your dyslexia and hearing impairment?
By kindergarten we had discovered my hearing impairment, though I was still struggling in school.  So, I was sent for further testing to pin-point the issue.  The diagnosis was dyslexia.  My parents were heartbroken, but they did what was best for me and made it work.  I attended Special Education classes, went to Summer School every summer, and had a different tutor every year.

When did you develop a passion for gymnastics? 
After discovering that I was deaf in my right ear, I was advised to take gymnastics to help with my balance.  I immediately fell in love!  When Atlanta held the Olympics in the summer of 1996, we had tickets to attend the Men’s Gymnastics event, it was my first time witnessing gymnastics in person, and I was HOOKED!  At age 6, I was advised to try out for the team.  So, I gave it a try and made it.  Eventually, I gave up all other sports to focus on my love for gymnastics.

How did dyslexia and a hearing impairment effect/affect your gymnastics? 
It was the perfect combination.  Since gymnastics is an individual sport, it was perfect for me.  New skills seemed daunting at first, but I knew, little by little, I would be able to learn.  My friends did not have the same patience and would often give up, I had the willpower to keep moving forward.

What helped you move past and overcome your setbacks? What advice would you give to aspiring gymnasts dealing with similar obstacles in their life?
I have a strong faith and my parents keep me grounded, humbleness is very important in my household.  Being Dyslexic and having a hearing impairment, I learned to adapt to the world around me.  I would never say I have overcome my situation, I have adapted and done my best.  My advice is to be proud of it, and own it!  It makes you very special, gives you an edge, and makes you stronger.

What inspired you to pursue coaching?  Tell us about your experience, thus far, as a coach at St. Charles Gymnastics Academy.
I want to encourage young boys to learn to love gymnastics, as much as I do.  Growing up in the South, I was coached to love the difficult skill level and appreciate the beauty of the sport.  I love being a coach at St. Charles!  It is what I am meant to do.

What was your initial American Ninja Warrior (ANW) experience like?
It was an awesome experience.  I went to the taping and I had no idea what to expect.  At that point, I had not been training for Ninja, but I was excited to be part of the program.  I was totally starstruck by all these big time Ninjas that I had watched on TV standing next to me in group meetings and photo-shoots.  What was amazing is the honest bonds in the Ninja Community.  Some of the biggest named Ninjas welcomed me into the Ninja Club.  I have made lifelong friends through this program.

What was the hardest part of tackling a new adventure like ANW?
The fear of the unknown and the natural fear of failure.  I think because I am dyslexic, I am a little more open to try new adventures.  I am used to not always succeeding my first time and thus, I am not as hard on myself.

What is the most thrilling part about ANW? How does it compare to gymnastics?
It is funny, as a dyslexic, I have to find little things to adapt to the obstacles around me.  That is what it is like being a dyslexic.  As far as ANW and gymnastics - I am a little guy for a Ninja - so, I have to rely on my little gymnastics body and do things my own way.  Sometimes in a competition I end up doing an obstacle different than anyone else - but, I am not afraid of being different.  Both sports are thrilling and both are really a battle against your own abilities.