Former Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins defenseman Barry Goers knows a thing or two about overcoming obstacles.
On the ice, Goers battled his way through parts of three seasons in the ECHL before successfully carving out a place in the Penguins lineup for four years.
And after being forced to retire early, the hard-working blueliner conquered an even bigger foe – post-concussion syndrome.
“After leaving Wilkes-Barre I followed coach [Chris] Taylor to Rochester along with some of the other guys. We had a great year there,” he said. “But unfortunately for me I had more issues with concussions, and what turned into post-concussion syndrome for me. Unfortunately I had to retire.
“It really took me two years to get back to a place where I felt more like myself again and a fully functioning human being.”
Thankfully, Goers has put those issues behind, but he has some new obstacles in his way – things like the jumping spider, floating steps and warped wall on American Ninja Warrior.
Goers will make an appearance in the show’s qualifying round on Monday, September 14. It’s the culmination of a dream he’s had for several years.
“I was just a huge fan of the show, really since the beginning,” he said. “I kind of made it a goal and a dream of mine to pursue that when I was done with hockey.”
Now living in the Denver area with his young family (wife Emily, sons Ryker and Orion), Goers had been working out at a climbing gym when he struck up a conversation with a stranger.
“I brought up American Ninja Warrior, and he said, ‘yeah, actually, I’ve competed on the show like five times,’” goers related.
It turns out that stranger was none other than ANW All-Star Jake Murray. The two struck up a quick friendship and started working out together.
Now that duo, along with fellow Coloradan Glenn Albright, will be running the course during the 2020 season of the show.
And while Goers is now to ANW, he’s been fairly successful already in the world of ninja.
“Colorado has a lot of really great ninjas, it’s definitely a hub,” he said. “We have CNL, or Colorado Ninja League. So I did CNL for the first time this year….I competed in the amateur division and I actually ended up winning the amateur division. So that automatically puts me into the pro division next year, where I have to compete against Jake and a lot of other great ninjas you’ll see this year on the show.”
Goers brings a bit of a different skill set to the sport.
“For me, especially coming from hockey, I like to say I was trying to reverse engineer myself,” he stated. “For hockey we really build ourselves from the ground up, leg strength, core strength. Upper body is maybe not quite as important as leg strength.
But a lot of stuff with American Ninja Warrior is should strength and grip strength and a lot of endurance…There was just so much I had to do to try to strengthen my upper body and grip to try to compete on the show and be a strong competitor.
“I think balance and agility really was a strength of mine coming from the hockey background…Obviously you need great cardio and conditioning playing hockey, and that was definitely one thing I was able to maintain.”
Goers has fond memories of his time on the ice, and specifically in northeast Pennsylvania. (“I truly loved my time in Wilkes-Barre with the Penguins. Most of my greatest memories of my hockey career were there”).
But now he’ll be looking to build on his hockey success in a new venture.
“By no means was I the greatest hockey player ever. But for myself I feel like a really mastered and accomplished a lot with the game. I’m someone who really likes to do new things.”
American Ninja Warrior airs Monday at 8pm Eastern Time on NBC