Ridgefielder brings talents to 'American Ninja Warrior Junior'

Earlier this year, East Ridge Middle School student Lily Zezula brought her athletic abilities to the set of "American Ninja Warrior Junior." Season 3, which includes the episode Zezula is featured in, starts streaming on Peacock Sept. 9.

Earlier this year, East Ridge Middle School student Lily Zezula brought her athletic abilities to the set of “American Ninja Warrior Junior.” Season 3, which includes the episode Zezula is featured in, starts streaming on Peacock Sept. 9.

Tiffany Zezula / Contributed photo

RIDGEFIELD — Lily Zezula will have the chance to test her athletic prowess before a national audience when she appears on the upcoming third season of “American Ninja Warrior Junior.”

The show is the pint-sized iteration of the popular game show that hosts elite athletes on the world’s most difficult obstacle courses. The junior version recruits kids between the ages of 9 and 14.

A friend first introduced Zezula, 11, to “American Ninja Warrior” when she was 6 years old. She was immediately inspired to refine her own ninja skills after watching female athletes “crushing the course,” she said.

Zezula started training at Ninja Mania in Danbury, the same gym fellow Ridgefielder Zac Palazzo trained at before appearing on the show earlier this year.

Five years later, her hard work paid off. After applying to compete and sharing videos with showrunners, Zezula was asked to join Season 3. She is only the second junior ninja from Ninja Mania to compete on the show. Her best friend Skylar Awalt, of Brookfield, was featured on Season 2.

“My parents surprised me (with) this poster board, and they turned it around and it said, ‘Congrats, Tiger Lily, you’ve made it on (the show),” Zezula recalled. “I was in shock.”

Upon graduating from Farmingville Elementary School, Zezula flew out to Los Angeles in June for the week-long shoot.

“The obstacles are much bigger and harder in real life ... (but) my nerves were definitely my biggest obstacle,” she said.

Although Zezula couldn’t disclose if she advanced in the competition, she said she was honored to represent Ridgefield and serve as an inspiration to others.

“This (is an) experience that I’ve always wanted since I was little,” she said. “You’re never too young to ... reach your dreams because if you put your mind to it and you put all this hard work into it, then anything can happen.”

The third season of “American Ninja Warrior Junior” streams on Peacock Sept. 9. Ninja Mania is planning to host a watch party for Zezula when her episode airs, though that date hasn’t been announced yet.

alyssa.seidman@hearstmediact.com