For a welcome distraction from coronavirus coverage, tune in to “American Ninja Warrior Junior” on Friday, April 24, and watch Springfield’s Kaela Gerson, aka “Kaela the koala,” run, jump, climb, and swing her way through a challenging obstacle course.
Kaela, who turned 11 last month, told NJJN she tried lots of different activities — among them soccer, softball, gymnastics, tennis, dance, and more — but was especially drawn to the physical and mental challenges of the sport known as ninja, where competitors race against the clock to complete a series of challenges.
“You need the intelligence to find ways to skip things and move faster and faster,” she said, adding that you also need “endurance” and the ability to “run really fast in between obstacles.”
Kaela is the daughter of Maya and Dave Gerson. They gave her the koala moniker because she always loved to climb.
The Gersons are members of Congregation Israel in Springfield and according to Maya Gerson, her daughter is the second congregant to compete in an “American Ninja Warriors” show.
Kaela trains at a gym and the family added fitness challenges to their basement and backyard swing set. She credits her friends from Hebrew school at Chai Center Chabad, Camp Deeny Riback, and other places for pushing her to “do better.”
“You need to be surrounded by people who are better than you so you can learn from them,” she said.
Kaela filmed the episode in Los Angeles in July. It airs at 6 p.m. on the Universal Kids channel.