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Furman superfan Bootie Cothran to appear on ‘American Ninja Warrior’

Furman superfan Bootie Cothran competes on the NBC show "American Ninja Warrior."
Bootie Cothran takes on "Wingnut Alley" while competing on NBC's "American Ninja Warrior" in Daytona Beach, Florida, in 2017. Photo provided by Bootie Cothran.

Bootie Cothran knows what it’s like to be a superfan. But he’s still getting used to having his own as a contestant on NBC’s “American Ninja Warrior.”

“It’s pretty cool to think about how I used to get autographs from Furman players, and now kids and fans of the show often want autographs from me,” Cothran said. “I don’t let it go to my head, but I do enjoy trying to be a good example and role model when I can.”

The “Bootie Bandwagon” will be on display at 8 p.m. Wednesday, June 13, when NBC affiliates are scheduled to broadcast the Southeast regional qualifier episode. “American Ninja Warrior” follows competitors as they navigate a series of obstacle courses for an ultimate prize of $1 million, and this marks Cothran’s fifth appearance on the television show.

Along the way, he became one of its most popular contestants, with spectators chanting“Bootie! Bootie! Bootie!” as he swings, pulls and balances his way to the finish line.

“I stumbled across ‘Ninja Warrior’ on TV right after Season 4, and I was just amazed at what I was seeing, because it was the sport that I never had growing up,” Cothran, who is 5 feet, 6 inches tall and weighs 110 pounds “soaking wet,” said. “I’ve always been fairly athletic, but I never played high school-level or college-level sports and I somewhat regretted that … When I was a kid I loved the monkey bars on the playground. I loved climbing trees in the woods growing up. To see all those same elements applied in one kind of sport and show, it was just an ideal and perfect fit for me.”

Furman fan Bootie Cothran trains in the weight room at Timmons Arena to prepare for "American Ninja Warrior."
Longtime Furman fan Bootie Cothran works out in the Speed, Strength & Conditioning Center inside Furman’s Timmons Arena as part of his “American Ninja Warrior” training.

Bootie Cothran has long been an iconic figure at Furman athletic events. His father, trustee emeritus John Cothran ’54, is an influential past chair of Furman’s Board of Trustees and president of the Paladin Club, and the younger Cothran estimates he’s been to “hundreds” of games in his life.

“If you attend a Furman athletic contest, there is a better than 50 percent chance you will see a Cothran there, cheering for the Paladins,” Furman athletic director Mike Buddie said. “Bootie and the entire Cothran family have been long time passionate fans of Furman athletics.”

“I grew up going to football games over at Sirrine Stadium. That’s how far back it goes,” Cothran said. “I’ve been out to see the national championship game in Tacoma, Washington, our first venture out there in ’85. I’ve seen us beat Georgia Tech and N.C. State and South Carolina and UNC on the football field … I love pulling for the Paladins.”

There are no age or sex divisions in “American Ninja Warrior.” If Cothran, now 49, finishes in the top 30, he will advance to the Miami City finals, which airs in August.

“All I can talk about is I competed in a qualifying episode and had a great time,” Cothran said.

When not supporting himself with his upper body, Cothran works as the media and technology coordinator at First Baptist Church in Greenville and is planning to open a gym in Greenville specializing in “American Ninja Warrior”-type training. And, no, his name isn’t actually Bootie.

“My real name is Scott, and as best as we can recall (Bootie) is nickname that just evolved over time,” he said. “Bootie has pretty much been the name I’ve gone by around the house as long as I can remember.”

Learn more about Cothran at his website.

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