If you saw a rubber shark or the sword from the video game Infinity Blade on American Ninja Warrior last night, chances are you saw Scott Stoddard.
The 38-year-old LDS member from Utah became interested in the competition—which features obstacle courses with a lot of swinging, climbing, and precarious balancing—about two years ago.
But it was Stoddard's job as a video game developer that prepared him for ninja training. That's because Stoddard doesn't just design video games; he's in them.
Stoddard is a game designer and stuntman for Chair Entertainment. In addition to designing games like Infinity Blade and Robot Unicorn Attack, he acts out the moves characters make in his games by using technology that tracks motion. Stoddard then edits the motion to fit the game sequence.
To be able to do this Stoddard learned Capoeira, a Brazilian martial art that also helped him with his balance and body control. This also helped him prepare for the sometimes "wacky" obstacles in American Ninja Warrior.
He also stayed in shape by running, hiking, and rock climbing—things contestants in the competition regularly do to train.
So when it came time to train for the competition, the hardest part was trying not to train too much.
"I enjoy it so much that I train a little too hard and I get injured," Stoddard chuckles. "The hardest part is forcing myself to take rest days."
While the time to train can be demanding, Stoddard doesn't train in the evening like some of his fellow competitors do. He says he prefers to spend the evenings with his wife, Natalie, and five children.
Instead, Stoddard trains in the mornings and during his lunch break. To not put a burden on his wife to get their children ready in the mornings, Stoddard says he and Natalie alternate mornings they work out as a way to balance the hectic morning schedule.
Sometimes they even train as a family, with Stoddard and his wife running courses and his children going climbing with Stoddard a couple of times a week.
And it was as a family that all of the Stoddards traveled to Oklahoma City for the competition. While getting five young children on and off airplane flights was not easy, Stoddard says it's been his favorite part of the competition so far to have his family with him.
"It was worth it just to see their faces and how much fun it was for them and how much fun they've had talking to their friends about it," he says. "And I feel like being able to set an example to them of being able to go above and beyond to find something exciting to do and have fun and enjoy life, I think Ninja Warrior is something they'll definitely remember."
While there, Stoddard met with famous American Ninja Warriors like Kacy Catanzaro and Daniel Gil. He even brought a few mementos from home, a replica of the sword from Infinity Blade and a giant rubber shark from his collection, that made for some pretty entertaining pictures.
"Just walking up to someone really famous and saying, 'Hey, do you want to take a picture with my sword?' is way more fun than just being a random fan. It's something more memorable; you have something to talk about and they ask about the sword and I tell them about my video game job and quite a few of them have played Infinity Blade and they're like, 'Oh my gosh, I love that game! That's so awesome!'"
Stoddard's attitude and approach to life are to help others have a little fun and to be excited for others' successes, something that has helped him to stand out as an LDS member on the show and anywhere he goes.
But, despite the competitions and adventure, Stoddard's main focus and source of fulfillment and fun is his family.
"It's really important, and one of the best things in life is to train your soul," he says. "And raising a family with my wife is one of the best ways to do that."
Stoddard competed in the American Ninja Warrior Oklahoma City finals qualifier course but he did not advance to the finals.