'American Ninja Warrior' inspires new gym in Cedar Falls

CEDAR FALLS — Friends tried to talk Scott Behrends into watching the popular TV show "American Ninja Warrior" for several years.

"They knew I was a monkey and like to hang on stuff," he said.

Once he watched the show, where contestants pursue their common dream of reaching Mount Midoriyama on the notorious obstacle course, he was hooked.

Now Behrends, along with Jacob Pauli, a decorated former University of Northern Iowa pole vaulter and an alternate for the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, China, have opened the Cedar Valley's only obstacle training course gym, Ninja U.

Located in Black Hawk Village, Ninja U offers a facility where children and adults of any skill level can jump, crawl, climb, hang or swing their way through an ever-changing lineup of obstacles.

Ninja U recently hosted a grand opening with food and coffee from local vendors, prize giveaways and ninja demonstrations from "American Ninja Warrior" and "American Ninja Warrior Jr." competitors.

The gym includes equipment for younger children, as well as some of the popular obstacles from the show, including the warped wall, salmon ladder and spider climb.

Iowa video gamer makes up to $500K a year

DES MOINES — "What do you do for a living?" a man asked Nick Overton at a bar.

The Des Moines man answered that he plays video games.

"I think they call that being unemployed," the other man joked.

Little did this buzzed stranger know that the 27-year-old man in front of him did not live in his mother's basement — perhaps the oldest, outdated stereotype about gamers.

And he definitely didn't know that he was speaking with an online celebrity of sorts, someone who sometimes gets stopped for autographs and selfies at the local Target.

With an annual income of up to $500,000, the popular YouTuber, Twitch streamer and professional video game competitor is living the career that teens dream of around the globe. And he's doing it from the comfort of his Iowa home.

From the age of 4, Overton had a fascination with video games. His father worked in technology, so gadgets and electronics were nothing new to his family.

When he was 6, he got a Nintendo 64 for Christmas, an exuberant moment captured by camcorder. He, his siblings and even his father were absorbed into the worlds of "Super Mario 64," ''Super Smash Bros.," ''Star Fox" and "Pokemon Stadium."

"My parents did not like me playing back then. They thought I played too much, didn't focus on school enough," said Overton. "I freaked out. I was so mad at him."

For two years, he didn't play video games. He was involved in other activities, like hockey, soccer, football and fishing.

Before going to the University of Iowa, Overton spent time working for Justin.tv, now known as the Amazon-owned live-streaming service, Twitch. He helped the company decide who should become "partners," broadcasters that could make advertising revenue off their streams.

After graduating in 2013, Overton became the chief operating officer for a streaming company, Streamup.

Right now, he's competing in the Fortnite Fall Skirmish tournament, with $10 million in prize money up for grabs over the six-week event.

Through "Fortnite" tournaments, he's won $35,000 so far. Combine that with his salary he gets from his team, his monetized YouTube account and his Twitch stream? He makes between $300,000 to $500,000 a year.

Overton has more than 930,000 YouTube subscribers and over 3.5 million views of his Twitch stream.

There is an upsides. Overton's dad is cool with him playing video games now.

Coaches face gun charges after fight at youth football game

ROCKFORD, Ill. — Two Illinois youth football coaches are facing felony charges after police say a fight broke out between coaches and parents following a game and one coach displayed a gun.

Forty-three-year-old Terrance Morris and 39-year-old Devorah Clark, both of Indiana, were being held Sunday in the Winnebago County Jail.

Police said Morris and Clark are coaches for the Calumet City Thunderbolts. The team played the Rockford Renegades Saturday afternoon in Rockford.

A fight started after the game between Calumet City coaches and Rockford coaches and parents, and one parent hit a coach. Police said Morris displayed a firearm, sending people running. No shots were fired.

Morris is charged with aggravated unlawful use of a weapon and mob action. Clark is charged with unlawful use of a weapon, mob action, obstructing identification and resisting arrest.

It's unclear whether Morris or Clark has an attorney.

U of Illinois to dedicate garden for Chinese scholar

URBANA, Ill. — The University of Illinois is dedicating a garden to a 26-year-old Chinese scholar who authorities say was kidnapped near campus and killed last year.

Yingying Zhang disappeared June 9, 2017, after she arrived at the university in central Illinois. Former graduate student Brendt Christensen has been charged with her abduction and death. Authorities have not found her body.

University officials said they'll hold a dedication ceremony Thursday for the Yingying Zhang Garden. The garden is located in Urbana, close to the last place she was seen on surveillance video getting into a vehicle. Authorities said she told friends she was on her way to sign an apartment lease.

University officials are inviting students, faculty, staff and the public to the 2 p.m. dedication ceremony.