Hackmann pleased to compete on American Ninja Warrior

By Theresa Brandt, Staff Writer
Posted 9/14/22

Olivia Hackmann recently competed in the 2022 series of the American Ninja Warrior. The show airs on NBC, and friends and family gathered at BJ’s Restaurant in Linn for watch parties to cheer …

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Hackmann pleased to compete on American Ninja Warrior

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Olivia Hackmann recently competed in the 2022 series of the American Ninja Warrior. The show airs on NBC, and friends and family gathered at BJ’s Restaurant in Linn for watch parties to cheer her on. She reached the semifinal round but unfortunately did not advance to the finals. Hackmann may have been disappointed, but it’s hard to keep this hardworking fitness fanatic down for long.

“I had a blast, and I’m extremely grateful that NBC gave me a shot at this course,” Hackmann said. 

Hackmann currently lives in St. Louis, where she works as a basketball trainer, a ninja coach, and a personal trainer, but she grew up near Frankenstein. She is the daughter of the late Kurt Hackmann and Linda Fick.

“Most of my family is still living in Osage County,” Hackmann explains. “My family is very supportive, which is amazing when you take on a challenge such as this.”

Hackmann felt lucky to have several family members traveling with her for the qualifying rounds and going to the actual shows. Her aunt and uncle, Darrin and Nichole Hackmann, their daughter Sabrina, Jenny Sieg, and her mom traveled with her to Los Angeles to show their support. Siblings, aunts, uncles, her grandma, and friends were able to watch via Zoom.

“It means the world to me to have my mom’s support and everyone’s support, really,” Hackmann said. “I know she (her mom, Linda Fick) has been through a lot, and I just want to make her proud.”

Even though Hackmann’s dreams and goals seem pretty far removed from the small town where she grew up, coming back to Osage County still feels like home. Her first love was basketball. She played from a very young age and exhibited a lot of talent for the sport. 

“I’ve played basketball most of my life,” Hackmann said. “Starting in grade school, continuing through high school, college, and even overseas after that.”

Hackmann played high school basketball while attending Helias High School and received the “Class Four Player of the Year” Award. She also enjoyed running track and playing volleyball. Hackman attended Southeast Missouri State University, where she received a full-ride basketball scholarship and earned the “Impossible is Nothing” award. After graduating with a degree in Mass Communication with an emphasis in advertising and a minor in entrepreneurship and management, she went on to plan a season of basketball in Australia. 

“The awards I received came from hard work and overcoming obstacles, not just talent, “Hackmann explained. “There are always those that will be more talented than you, but hard work can take you a long way. Sometimes all the way around the world.”

The COVID-19 pandemic put a hold on her dreams of playing basketball in Australia and changed her path.

Hackmann has nothing but good things to say about her experience on the American Ninja Warrior. 

“The experience was so fun,’ she said. “I was pushed out of my comfort zone, and that is exactly what I needed to get excited about something again.” 

Hackmann was one of 400 competitors selected for the qualifying round. The submission process includes potential players filling out an application and making a video showcasing their “ninja” skills.

While Hackmann is serious about fitness, preparing for the American Ninja Warrior was a lot different than how she usually trains.  

“Ninja requires more grip, more upper-body strength, and lower-body endurance,” Hackman said. 

She trained four days a week at ultimate ninja warrior obstacles and spent one day a week rock-climbing.

Hackmann believes that mixing up her training is a key to staying in shape. She does CrossFit, functional fitness classes, plays sand volleyball, takes tumbling classes, rock-climbing, martial arts, plays basketball, and participates in Obstacle Course Racing (OCR).

“I believe that mixing up it up makes it fun, and many of the skills can overlap and contribute to further you in your main sport,” Hackmann said. “It also helps me with burnout and allows me to learn and find new things I enjoy.”

Hackmann may cut back to training three days a week in the off-season and sometimes takes a week or two off completely. But she knows that training is essential to achieving her goals.

“I know that to compete at a high level, I have to work even on days I may not want to,” Hackmann said. “I have a list of goals I want to accomplish, and I use those goals every day to keep me motivated.”

Hackmann also believes that diet is an essential part of her training. 

“I try to stick to whole foods and try to remove processed foods, but I believe that diet is about finding a good balance and what’s right for you,” she explains. 

Hackmann is less strict about her diet after American Ninja Warrior, but she still strives to eat healthy about 80% of the time and the other 20% to be “cheat meals.”

Mental challenges were one of the most difficult aspects for Hackmann when competing on the American Ninja Warrior. 

“There were so many times when I questioned if I was good enough to be on that stage and compete with so many great athletes,” she said. “I had to constantly remind myself that I had worked hard and that I deserved a shot.”

For Hackmann, there was no way to know if she could do it other than pushing past her insecurities and doing her best. 

Competing in the American Ninja Warrior was a lot different for Hackmann than playing basketball.

“With basketball, my stage was more team-oriented, and there are turnovers and missed shots,” she explained. “This stage is different since it is an individual sport, and you get one shot at the course. It’s really just you against the course.”

Hackmann said the key was the same in every sport — relax and have fun with what you are doing.

The American Ninja Warrior community is also very supportive, according to Hackmann, and she tries to focus on herself and what she must do. In the end, she wants everyone to do well with the course. Hackmann set small goals just to make it past the first obstacle and then the next one. 

“This season has shown me that grip strength is a weakness of mine,” Hackmann said.  

She plans to do more rock climbing and participate in more competitions to get more experience before next year. 

“There are always things that need improvement,” Hackmann said. “I’ve learned so much about myself from this whole process, and I am proud of what I’ve accomplished.”

Hackmann hopes that she will inspire people to challenge themselves to pursue their goals and take a shot at big things they may not think are attainable.

Hackmann hopes to be able to compete in the American Ninja Warrior program again next year. 

“I’m just excited to keep learning, growing, and getting stronger,” Hackmann said.

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