Wade Lopp craves a good challenge. He found one when he enrolled in Meridian Technology Center’s Pre-Engineering–STEM Academy program a few years ago. He found one again in his Ultimate Ninja training at Next Level Gym in Stillwater.
Lopp graduated from both high school and Meridian Technology Center last month. He was home-schooled, which meant his schedule was more flexible than the average high school student’s. He stayed just as busy, though. Nearly every school day, he went to the gym to train before his classes at Meridian at 7:50 a.m. or during his lunch hour so that he would have time for his other schoolwork — including college classes — and his job at Stillwater’s RPX Technologies.
Despite his busy schedule, Lopp found a community of like-minded friends in his many activities. One of these is his younger brother, Wyatt, who just completed his sophomore year of high school and first year in Meridian’s Pre-Engineering–STEM Academy program.
Wyatt joined both the ninja training and Meridian after his brother did. While in classes at Meridian, Wyatt became friends with classmate Jo Underwood and invited him to join the Ultimate Ninja training as well. Underwood, who is also home-schooled and recently completed his junior year of high school and first year at Meridian, quickly accepted.
The three travel to the gym, school and competitions inside and outside the state together. Last month, they trekked to Texas and Missouri for regional competitions where Wade and Underwood both qualified for the Ultimate Ninja Athlete Association World Series Championship Finals. Wyatt still hopes to qualify in one of the next few regional competitions before the championship in July.
Wade said the trio’s diversity of ages and skills adds to the enjoyment of training and competing. “Having that close group around you makes it fun and helps you push,” he said.
“If any of us accomplishes something, that’s our new goal. We have to do it, too,” said Underwood.
Wyatt agreed, sharing that his favorite things about both working out and attending Meridian are the opportunities to improve himself and be around people with similar interests. “It’s the best,” he said. “Having that close group around you helps you push to get to the next thing.”
The friendly rivalry isn’t the only factor driving them to success, though. “It’s personal to me. Even at competitions, I’m not competing against them. I want to perform the best I can,” said Wade. “And that’s true here at Meridian, and that’s true at competitions.”
Meridian Technology Center has been a driver of economic development since 1975. With a mission to educate, enrich lives and secure economic futures, Meridian offers full-time career training programs, short courses, Business and Industry services and entrepreneurial support to residents from the Agra, Carney, Glencoe, Guthrie, Morrison, Mulhall-Orlando, Pawnee, Perkins-Tryon, Perry and Stillwater school districts.