SITKA – Mt. Edgecumbe Hospital Nurse Anesthetist, Cody Johnston, CRNA was recently selected to compete in Season 10 of NBC’s American Ninja Warrior.
It will be his third time to compete on the show, but the first time his run on the course, which took place in Los Angeles in March, will be aired nationally. A production crew traveled all the way to Sitka to film an onsite background piece on Cody to air along with his ‘run.’
Each season, the television show receives an enormous number of submissions from hopeful competitors, so there is no doubt becoming a contestant on American Ninja Warrior requires an extraordinary physical performance. Having the show find you, your job and the place you live interesting enough to send a crew to your hometown and film your personal story is icing on the cake.
When asked how he feels about being on the show, Cody said, “Just like my previous two times, I am extremely honored because not everyone that applies gets “the call” and to get “the call” for a third time just blows my mind! I must be doing things the right way. I try to live a positive, fit lifestyle and provide a positive influence on my family and community. I am truly blessed and humbled by all that has happened to my family and me. My personal message to anyone who has a dream of bettering their lives is to go for it!! Turn your dream into A GOAL!!”
On paper, Mr. Johnston may seem like an unlikely American Ninja Warrior contestant as he appears to be a bit of a bookworm. He earned a Master’s of Science in Nurse Anesthesia from Arkansas State University and spent much of his career at a critical access hospital in Warrensburg, Missouri. He also had career stops in Hot Springs, Arkansas and Little Rock, Arkansas. A specialty rotation in rural southeast Arkansas peaked his interest in small, community-driven hospitals where care can be challenging. Upon his arrival in Sitka and at SEARHC’s Mt. Edgecumbe Hospital, he said, “I felt an overwhelming sense of belonging, and from day one I knew this was the place I needed to be.”
Cody Johnston was Enlisted US Navy from 1998-2003 and deployed to Iraq in ‘03 with the 1st Marine Division. He was a Hospital Corpsman (medic) and also a certified surgical technician. He said, “The Navy is what gave me a goal to shoot for academically, which led me to the career path I chose.” After leaving the Navy and finishing his undergraduate degree, Cody joined the US Air Force Reserves and was commissioned as an officer. He served four years active reserve time and while currently “Inactive,” he still holds his commission. Johnston adds, “I have had many experiences in my career, and it all began when I joined the Navy. I can say that short of being a surgeon; I have held EVERY position in the operating room including scrub tech, circulator, first assist, charge nurse, pre and post op, and even sterile processing.”
Having an interest in fitness and American Ninja Warrior is probably an extreme understatement, because when Johnston was asked to list his personal interests on his provider information form for SEARHC, he listed, “Fitness, American Ninja Warrior, and spending time with my family, which usually involves fitness and American Ninja Warrior.” Enough said. He and his wife even opened an “American Ninja-style gym for kids, Kronos Titan Ninja Training, in the old Allen Marine building on Smith Street in 2016.
What made him decide to apply for the show in the first place? His three children insisted that he could do it and finally convinced him to try in 2014. His 3-minute video included a stop-action Lego animation of “Lego Cody” tackling the ANW course, complete with color commentary. That got him a spot competing in the show’s San Pedro, All-Military Regional. While Cody did not appear on the show that year or the next time he tried, he insisted each time, “I am going to go a lot further than I did last year.” He did.
For those that aren’t aware, the American Ninja Warrior series follows competitors as they attempt a series of extremely demanding obstacle courses in both qualifying and finals rounds across the country. Those who complete the finals course in their designated region move on to the national finals round in Las Vegas, where they face a four-stage course modeled after the famous Mt. Midoriyama course in Japan. The winner will take home a grand prize of $1,000,000. So far, only one person has claimed that prize, but perhaps with all of Southeast Alaska rooting for him, Cody will be second.
Season 10 of American Ninja Warrior premieres Wednesday, May 30, 2018, on NBC. Cody will appear on the second show of the season, Wednesday, June 6. As far as additional appearances or hints as to whether or not he will move on to the next round of competition, Cody is sworn to secrecy. His fellow Southeast Alaskan neighbors, along with the rest of the country will have to wait and see.