Sumter's Next Generation, presented by CCTC: Carleigh Fraser details Ninja Warrior Worlds experience, next steps in her career


Ninjas aren't just ancient figures, dressed in black and living in the shadows. They can also be modern-day athletes, with bright smiles and bubbly personalities, rocking electric-colored jerseys at international competitions, like 17-year-old Ninja Warrior Carleigh Fraser.

Carleigh started Sumter Ninja Warriors off the recommendation of a friend nearly nine years ago. After a year-long break, she returned to the sport steadfast on beating every obstacle - literally. Over the years, her dedication, victories on a local and regional level, and admiration from coaches, older sister Kasey and younger sister Claire - both enrolled in Sumter Ninja Warriors, led her to qualify for the Ultimate Ninja Athletic Association's World Finals in Orlando, Florida this year.

"It was crazy; We've done it once before, but it was much more fun to have a team there with us," she beamed. "It was cool to watch [other contestants] because some of them really have experience with it and everyone's so nice. It's often not a really competitive thing where you'll have the competitiveness of it. You make a lot of friends with it."

The four-day competition featured competitors from the United States, Australia, Canada, China, United Kingdom, Guam, Hong Kong, Italy, Philippines, Poland and Puerto Rico. Her training and agility allowed her to finish 13th in the world for female ninja warriors ages 16 to 39. This entire experience - from her ranking to meeting American Ninja Warrior Champion Daniel Gill - was a special one, as it could have been her last time competing.

"I came close to stopping right after Worlds, and then I didn't. I've actually been out for the last four months with an injury," Carleigh explained. "I think I've done it for so long. I was thinking about the things I've missed out on, and I didn't really think about the fact that I've gotten so much out of it that I will remember forever. I would much rather have done something memorable with my life than spent it constantly on the phone or with friends doing stuff."

Now back in the gym, beating obstacles courses for the first time since her injury, Carleigh's admiration for the unique sport and all its immeasurable opportunities is being passed on to the next generation of warriors who lovingly call her "Coach Carleigh." From eager four-year-olds to reluctant 16-year-olds, Carleigh uses her own experiences - on a local and international level - to help her students gain confidence in their skills.

Carleigh has poured her blood, sweat and tears into ninja warriors and has high hopes of where it could take her. Jokingly, she entertained the idea of joining the sports Olympic team as the team will debut in the 2028 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles. Though Team USA's roster is already filled, another of her goals is to return to the Ninja Warrior World Finals in Anaheim, California in June 2024. It would require a lot of training from the young ninja and though her future placement in these competitions is unknown, Carleigh is certain of one thing pertaining to her future as a ninja warrior.

"I'd love to keep doing [ninja] after I graduate."