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Furman superfan Bootie Cothran to compete in Miami finals on ‘ANW’

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.

Members of the “Bootie Bandwagon” will have another chance to root for longtime Furman supporter and “American Ninja Warrior” contestant Bootie Cothran on Monday, July 30, when he competes in the Miami City Finals episode of the NBC television series. Air time is 8 p.m.

Cothran is part of  group of 30 competitors who advanced from the qualifying round, where he was one of 11 people who successfully completed the course. Cothran, who also advanced to the city finals in 2017, knows what it’s like to be a superfan. But he’s still getting used to having his own as a five-time contestant on ANW.

“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” was on display June 13 when NBC affiliates broadcast the show’s Miami City Qualifier episode, and the fans were treated to the site of the 49-year-old Cothran “beating the wall” and completing a course for the first time since first appearing in Season 5.

Watch Bootie Cothran beat and wall and hit the buzzer for the first time

Now in its 10th season, “American Ninja Warrior” follows competitors as they navigate a series of obstacles for an ultimate prize of $1 million. Cothran has become one of the show’s most popular contestants, with spectators chanting“Bootie! Bootie! Bootie!” as he swings, pulls and balances his way toward 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.” Cothran was one of only 11 competitors to complete the course, and with his ninth-place finish he advances to the the Miami City Finals episode, which airs in August.

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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