Katie Bone lines up a shot on the family’s pool table, as her mom, Tammy, watches. (Herron photo)


BERNALILLO – Katie Bone literally fell short of advancing to Stage 2 of the American Ninja Warrior national finals, but she’s all but assured she’ll return to the NBC-TV show next season.

“I still have to do the application process,” she said. “It was cool to see, all the support I received this season, and how many people have watched my run, and followed my journey and – hopefully, (I’ll be back) next year.”

Earlier, her ANW competitions had been qualifying and semifinals, respectively, in San Antonio and Los Angeles, before she headed to Las Vegas, Nev., in May, for the taping of the finals.

Just 16 and a Type 1 diabetic, which was diagnosed when she was 11, Katie was a favorite of the show’s announcers and America will see more of her in the years to come. No way was this 5-foot, 1-inch athlete going to allow diabetes to limit her participation, and TV viewers could see two small devices attached to her during the shows.

“My motto is the same one as Bethany Hamilton’s – the surfer who lost her arm in a shark attack,” she told WebMD. “I don’t need easy, I just need possible.”

How many teens do you know who are recognized strolling through an airport, which happened to Bone in Salt Lake City? She was asked if she was Katie Bone, telling her they’d seen her ANW appearance, and after she said yes, she was asked for an autograph.

And, she said, she has thousands of followers on social media.

If she’d worked her way up the “Jumping Spider” obstacle, she may have made it to Stage 2 of the four-stage finals. That apparatus was basically a climb up between two walls, with no handholds.

And, if all goes well, she’ll compete two years from now in Paris as a member of the U.S. climbing team in the 2024 Summer Olympics, where there are three competitions:

  • Speed Climbing: challenging competitors to climb about a 50-foot high wall as fast as possible. Bone went to those championships in Texas this month ranked third.
  • Rope Climbing: challenging competitors to climb long, difficult routes up to 55 feet high.
  • Bouldering: challenging competitors to climb short, difficult routes up to 15 feet high.

With ANW in her rear-view mirror, “Right now, I’m really focused on climbing. I haven’t done a whole lot of ninja since Vegas, and I have the speed climbing … and I have a sport-climbing competition, which I have in five or six weeks, and I’m trying to build my endurance for that.”

Not only a nationally ranked rock climber, she’s a member of the USA national speed-climbing team, and has spent the past couple of weeks in Plano, Texas – not far from Dallas — competing in speed climbing at the Youth World Championships. She went into competition that ranked third.

Around the corner are the lead climbing championships, so she’s been busier than your normal teen. Oh, yeah – there’s a big ninja competition she’ll enter in October.

Her mom, Tammy Bone, who home-schools her daughter, could see this coming a long time ago. At the Bones’ comfortable home near Camino del Pueblo in Bernalillo, she points to a tree a few yards away – there’s a tree house there — which Katie and older brother Andrew spent a lot of time in in years past.

Tammy Bone also saw her daughter in gymnastics with other tots and later in soccer, but a visit to a gym when Katie was just 4 or 5 ultimately led to her passion for climbing.

“I think that when they were little, I knew whatever they chose to do, having great body awareness was going to be key,” she said. “Whether they just were climbing trees outside and playing, or they chose a sport. I also knew early habits are life habits … meaning if I got them into some fitness, whatever that was for them, would benefit them forever—brain development, body awareness. And hopefully, those habits stay for a lifetime, right.”

Fortuitously, “I also knew gymnastics was a great foundation for anything – brain development, cross-body, the tumbling.”

Hence, she got her daughter in a tiny tots class when she was 18 months old.

Soccer, later, “was great for hand-eye coordination, and the foot-brain coordination,” but when her kids “found climbing, that was the passion – what they wanted to do.”

Ironically, even though a fine fit teenaged girl, Katie admits, “I can’t dance.”


“She’s so good on the walls, she’s no good on the ground,” said Tammy, a former cheerleader at Bernalillo High School, where her husband, Matt, also attended.

“We were national champs in ’95,” she said. “We were state champs, I think, three of those years (I was at BHS).”

Tammy’s still a cheerleader, although instead of rooting for the Spartans, she’s pulling for her daughter.

“Climbing benefits ninja a lot,” Katie explained, “so I don’t necessarily have to go to the ninja multiple times a week in order to perform in that. There’s a lot more technical stuff, since climbing builds the basic strength for that.”

What’s her training regimen?

“I do strength and conditioning twice a week, and then at the climbing gym, all my sessions vary – whether it’s endurance or speed climbing or bouldering. A lot of people just know me for ninja at this point.”

In her spare time, seemingly rare, she said, “My first choice is sleeping. My second one is I’ll got to a coffee shop and read for a few hours.”

She said she loves Matcha drinks from Starbucks.

“For her 16th birthday, she asked for her own espresso machine,” Tammy said. “She was so excited and that’s what she got.”

Best discipline?

“I don’t know,  bouldering and sport climbing, I’m fairly strong at both of them.”

Those two must be combined for competitors; speed climbing is a separate event, she said.

“I want to do all three, but if I had to choose one, I would do bouldering.”

Coincidentally, once she graduates high school, which she has yet to start at home this semester, although she’s taking concurrent college courses through CNM, she wants to attend Colorado University – in Boulder.