Valley coach competes on ‘American Ninja Warrior’

Fred McCormick

As the owner of OSEGA Gymnastics in Swannanoa, Miles Avery uses the experience from his illustrious coaching career to teach young people how to excel in the sport of gymnastics.

But on Monday night the four-time Olympic coach will be in the spotlight as he attempts to conquer the course on NBC’s show “American Ninja Warrior.” You can watch Monday, June 29 at 8 p.m.

Avery will be among the contestants who tackle a series of obstacles as they try to advance beyond the regional round to the national finals, held in Las Vegas.

The 56-year-old former Ohio State gymnastics head coach was reluctant to try out for the show. But encouraged by friends, he eventually relented.

“I had one friend in particular who just kept saying ‘you should do it, you should do it,” Avery said. “So I submitted a video for this season, and they accepted it and allowed me to be on the show.”

Avery lettered in gymnastics in each of his four years at Temple University, in his hometown of Philadelphia. He was a member of the U.S. National Team from 1981-1984 before returning to his alma mater to coach.

His appearance on “American Ninja Warrior,” which has already been filmed, was unlike anything that he has participated in before.

“It was a tremendous experience,” Avery said. “Being around the other athletes was great. Beating the course was important to everyone around, and everyone was giving each other tips and coaching and encouraging one another.”

He was interested in the opportunity to compete against other athletes and the course itself.

“I certainly wanted the challenge now,” Avery said. “I’ve watched the show over the last few years and thought ‘wow, that is amazing what they’re doing.’”

Much of the course used for the show involves climbing, which impacted Avery’s strategy as he prepared.

“I know from watching the show that grip strength is tremendously important, as well as upper body and core strength,” he said. “When I submitted the video, I was already working on my upper body strength, so I knew I needed to improve my grip strength so I could hold on.”

His ability to identify areas that require special attention has been one of the keys to his success as a coach. Avery’s list of accomplishments at the coaching level is vast, but his desire to instill a love for gymnastics in children inspired him to open OSEGA Gymnastics in 2010.

“My ultimate goal with everything that I was doing was open my own facility,” he said.