Ryleigh is a Freshman at Grand Oaks and and also a diver for our school. She was featured in the Houston Chronicle last month with an amazing story of bravery and perseverance. Ryleigh's story is one of hope and a true example of not letting anything stop you even with life gets hard. Not only does Ryleigh have what it takes to be a champion at heart but also the muscle power because she is a true American Ninja Warrior! Ryleigh was one of 6,000 kids who applied to be on the new American Ninja Warrior Junior, and later was one of a select group of 200 chosen to compete. The show was hosted in Los Angeles a few months ago but will be premiering this Saturday the 13th at 6:00 pm on the Universal Kids (https://www.universalkids.com) The show will run for 20 weeks and Ryleigh does not know which episode(s) she will appear in. On behalf of Grand Oaks PTO we want to Congratulate Ryleigh on being a Grizzly Nation Stand Out. Her story is one that can be admired for her nonstop dedication, and heart. Your Grizzly Nation community is proud and we can't wait to stay tuned.
1. Tell us a little about yourself? (Grade, Family, pets)
My name is Ryleigh Rodgers. I’m a freshman and a diver at GOHS. My parents are Keith and Dana Rodgers and I have two older siblings: brother Rance (18), and sister Jourdan (27). My dog’s name is Flicka.
2. Tell us how you got interested in American Ninja Warrior?
I got interested when attending birthday parties at the ninja gym - Iron Sports. Once my parents decided to retire me from gymnastics, ninja training was just a natural transition to maintain my upper body strength.
3. There is a news story in the Courier that talks about your back and what problems you have faced. Can you tell us about that?
I was born with a condition called congenital kyphoscoliosis; however I didn’t know about it until I was 11. After many doctor visits I was told that I was going to need surgery to fuse several vertebrae together. The surgery didn’t turn out as planned so I ended up needing 3 more additional surgeries due to complications. I now have 7 levels of fusion: 6 screws, 4 hooks, and 2 rods in my back.
4. How did you feel once you were faced with not the best news?
It was a lot to handle all at once: facing the diagnosis and then having to quit the sport that I had loved doing since I was 3. Once the initial shock wore off, I felt a sense of relief knowing that there was an actual cause to all the pain. At that time, I was training almost 30 hours a week in gymnastics and pushing through the pain never realizing there was a real issue. I felt a bit defeated with the way things changed so drastically, almost over night, but I now know it was the best decision for my future.
5. What motivated you to overcome your diagnosis?
I’ve never been the type of person to just give up when something becomes hard. The challenge itself motivates me. I never really had a motive I just knew it’s what had to be done.
6. What would you say to other kids that are facing medical issues and who feel overwhelmed and not sure what's next?
Don’t look too far into your future. Everything happens for a reason so take things one day at a time. And remember, you’re never alone in anything you’re facing no matter how bad it is.
7. Who have been some of your role models?
I’ve been blessed with some really great role models and even the opportunity to train with Olympians in both gymnastics and diving, but in general my greatest role model would have to be my mom. She has faced her own challenges with breast cancer, but always managed to do for her kids no matter the circumstance. She and my dad have raised me to embody that same strength and courage!
8. What is the hardest rotation (not sure what to call the different exercises) for you in American Ninja?
Standing at only 4’11”, I would have to say the 14’ warped wall is one of the toughest along with moving balance obstacles.
9. What other sports do you play or plan on trying?
In addition to diving for Grand Oaks, I’m also a competitive diver at Woodlands Diving Academy. As a former level 9 gymnast, I still enjoy tumbling.
10. Fun Fact: Tell us something unique, or funny about yourself?
I’m an aunt to two beautiful nieces, Annibelle and Charlie.