Dr. Steve Bachta.

No, Dr. Steve Bachta does not dash down the halls at Evanston Hospital, jumping over crash carts and nurses’ stations.

But he probably could if it was allowed.

Bachta, a pediatric hospitalist at NorthShore University HealthSystem, is also a competitive ninja, a sport that combines military boot camp, gymnastics and circus aerial acts in a display of strength and speed.

Think of it as the rings you couldn’t do in gym class, combined with the ropes you couldn’t do either. Then add in the uneven parallel bars, the flying trapeze and a ton of other tests of upper body strength, and you’re still not close to how difficult the highest levels of the sport can be.

And while Bachta has only been a ninja for a couple of years, he’s already good enough to be on the televised Olympics of competitive ninja, “American Ninja Warrior,” now in its 14th season, a show that bills itself as “the world’s most difficult obstacle course.”

Bachta’s ninja connection actually started via his oldest daughter, Sydney, now age 7.

When Sydney was 5, “she loved monkey bars,” Bachta says.

She also loved a kids’ tv show, “American Ninja Warrior Junior,” for younger competitors.

It clicked, and became something father and daughter could watch together and then do together.

“We turned part of our house into gyms,” Bachta laughs, “hanging stuff from the ceiling” for training, and going to actual gyms as well.

Bachta began competing locally, and while he kept getting better, he had “no expectation” of ever being on the Ninja Warrior show.

But he applied, which included a video of what he can do, and was accepted.

At 41, Bachta was one of the older competitors. He’s not allowed to disclose how he did, and whether he made it out of the qualifying round (San Antonio) to the semifinals (Los Angeles) and the finals (Las Vegas), where the big winner can get $1 million. You’ll have to watch in order to find out (at 7 p.m. June 20, on NBC).

But Bachta says he loved every second of the competition.

“It’s one of those experiences, there’s nothing like it.”

He even has his own nickname… Doc-Ta Bachta, on a t-shirt.

The Doc-ta says his colleagues at Evanston and Highland Park hospitals supported him, by covering shifts if necessary so he could compete.

And there are also young hospital patients who think it’s pretty cool that their doctor is a ninja.

But the kids who really know just how cool it is are Sydney, his other daughter Logan (age 5) and Bachta’s wife Kelly.

“We are a ninja family for sure,” Bachta says.

And as for whether Sydney, who started it all for the ninja family, will follow in dad’s footsteps when she’s old enough to compete, Bachta says “I don’t know if she wants to, but she’s very good.”

As of now, however, Sydney “just wants to have fun,” says Dad, which is reason enough to run, jump, and swing from one set of bars to another.

And be proud of your dad.

Jeff Hirsh joined the Evanston Now reporting team in 2020 after a 40-year award-winning career as a broadcast journalist in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Leave a comment

The goal of our comment policy is to make the comments section a vibrant yet civil space. Treat each other with respect — even the people you disagree with. Whenever possible, provide links to credible documentary evidence to back up your factual claims.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *