Steve Bachta’s night on “American Ninja Warrior” ended with a splash.
But it was not the kind of splash Bachta was hoping for.
The local physician had previously made it through the grueling quarterfinals of the nationally televised obstacle course in June, putting him into the semifinals.
But on Monday night’s semi’s, Doc-ta Bachta (Ninja nickname) lost his grip on an upside-down trapeze called the “over-under,” and fell into a pool below. That was it.
“One hand slip,” Bachta said, “and you’re done.”
Still, the pediatric hospitalist at Evanston and Highland Park Hospitals, who only started Ninja workouts a couple of years ago, as an activity to do with his then five-year-old daughter, did amazingly well, particularly because half of the 40 semifinalists were less than half of Bachta’s age (41).
“As a rookie, you don’t expect to make it to the semis,” Bachta said.
“American Ninja Warrior,” now in its 14th season on NBC, bills itself as “the world’s toughest obstacle course,” and is a combination of climbing, leaping, jumping, flying through the air, grabbing bars and ropes, and not falling.
Upper body strength is critical. Mental strength is, too.
“We all respect each other’s athleticism,” Bachta said of his fellow Ninjas.
“I’m not trying to say I did this because I’m older. I just want to say I did it. Anybody who makes it to semis is great.”
The quarterfinals were taped in San Antonio, the semifinalists in Los Angeles.
Making it that far, Bachta said, was “a dream come true.”
Bachta’s wife and two daughters were in L.A., although the girls, now 7 (Sydney) and 4 (Logan) had to be woken up at 3 a.m. to watch the show being taped during the wee hours of the morning.
After climbing out of the pool, Bachta looked into the camera and said “girls, it’s time for bed. Love you guys.”
Doc-ta Bachta is aiming for another appearance on the show. Local, Chicago-area Ninja competitions begin soon, with audition tapes for “Ninja Warrior” due in December.
There’s no guarantee Bachta will make it back, although as a successful rookie, and a 41-year-old one at that, he has a compelling story line that TV producers find attractive.
“I’m definitely different than your normal Ninja,” he noted.
While Bachta did not make it to the Las Vegas finals this season, and a shot at winning $1 million, he’s already been part of a priceless adventure and bonding experience.
“The best training sessions,” he said, “are the ones I do with my kids.”