ADA, Okla. – It’s been five years now since this pole barn near Ada became the Manuel family hangout.
“We are just literally hanging out,” says Danny Manuel.
In 2014, it was just Danny climbing ropes and walking the rafters, training for his first American Ninja Warrior challenge in the Dallas qualifier.
He hit the water about two minutes into that race, but he kept up with his Ninja training.
“If you’re asking if I still have Ninja fever,” he says, “That’s a definite yes.”
Danny started organizing events of his own.
His Orphan Love Mud Run became a favorite with weekend Ninjas.
“It’s just continued to grow since then,” says Manuel.
The climbing apparatus in the garage got more elaborate too; chains, walls, all kinds of stuff.
He continues, “I set up a course two or three times a year.”
Danny ran a race for Oklahoma State Senate last year and came up short.
He retired as a firefighter in Ada, but he stayed a Ninja.
Danny smiles and says, “I am still the local Ninja.”
He was a course tester for the Oklahoma City challenge in 2016 and a walk-on this spring when the course set up again at the Capitol.
“Going into that night I felt good,” Danny recalls. “I felt healthy.”
He had to wait most of the night before his turn came up, but that’s about the limit of what he’s allowed to tell us.
“I’m not really able to tell you about what happened while I was there.”
Daniel has more company in the barn these days.
His son Blaise has become a promising Ninja himself.
Mom made him join his dad after he got too big for the obstacle course in his bedroom.
“I would climb my bedpost,” says Blaise.
“Sometimes Mom likes getting us out of the house,” adds Danny.
Father and son Ninjas have a dream of competing together on the big stage someday.
Until then, this barn will have to suffice.
No ladders needed.
If you need to get something up high, the instructions for these ‘Manuels’ just says climb.
The Manuel family is organizing a local Ninja event for August involving both kids and adults.
Is This a Great State or What? is sponsored by WEOKIE Credit Union.