Megan Budway rigorously working out training for "American Ninja Warrior."

June 16, 2021

As it says on her workout tank tops, Megan Pressley Budway ’17 is “The Music Ninja,” a reference to her long-held dream – one that recently came to fruition – to compete in the extreme physical challenges that make up the popular NBC show American Ninja Warrior.
Years of training in gyms and other venues gave her the strength and stamina to make the cut, and she will appear on the June 21 episode. Among her biggest cheerleaders will be her music students at Cedar Fork Elementary School in Morrisville, NC.
“My students have been part of my Ninja journey since I started working there,” she said. “They've all known it was a dream of mine to compete on the show, and a few of them were involved in my submission video. I love being able to share this experience with my students because it shows them that if they have a goal they want to reach, set their mind to it and put in the hard work, they can achieve it.”
Budway earned a Bachelor of Music in Music Education at UNCW, where she began dating her husband, Zachary Forrest Budway ’16, and a Master of Arts in Teaching from UNC Greensboro. She also spent a number of years marching with drum and bugle corps, playing synthesizer in the front line, as well as time working as a sound engineer for one regiment.
She has always had a passion for physical activity, something she shares with her father, Mark Pressley. The two started competing in the Spartan Races but preferred the obstacle challenges to running. Budway started training at Triangle-area gyms that offer Ninja training, which, besides being the basis of a popular show, is also a sport of its own.
“Competing on American Ninja Warrior was an indescribable experience,” Budway said. “Ninja, as a sport, is not just a physical challenge, but a huge mental challenge as well. Getting ready to film ANW taught me so much about my mental game and having a big positive mindset going onto the big stage.”
Ninja may be her avocation, but she loves teaching music to children and believes that music is an integral part of education.
“My goal is to make music fun and inspire my students to find their passion so that once they go to middle school, they can choose to join band or chorus and further their musical experience,” Budway said.
“Music and the arts in general are important because they give students an outlet to express themselves. Music also combines math, science, reading, language and so much more into one subject, and is absolutely necessary to help create a well-rounded education.”
-- Tricia Vance