Recent research suggests that the ability to overcome setbacks and view them as temporary obstacles rather than permanent barriers may be one of the greatest predictors of high achievement in any endeavor. This characteristic, commonly referred to as “grit” due to the research conducted by behavioral psychologist Angela Duckworth, has become an area of great interest and investigation by employers, college admission programs, and even sports teams. While that mixture of passion and perseverance is intrinsic in some people, sometimes a life-changing experience is necessary for one to develop the mindset where staying down simply isn’t an option. For some, that may be holding their newborn child or discovering a specific subject matter that they are passionate about; for others, it may even be a tragic accident. For Brody Broderick, it was the latter.
Ryan “Brody” Broderick was a “normal” 20-something ski bum. Having grown up in Utah County, he had been skiing almost since he could walk and could regularly be seen at local resorts getting his adrenaline rush by flinging himself off the largest jumps they had to offer. He was passionate about pushing his limits on the slopes (and, of course, his fiancée, Kendra), but in his own words: “little else.” He was working for his father’s construction business and off-and-on as a ski instructor, with no plans for furthering his education. “I just figured I’d have a simple life: marry Kendra and start a family, find some construction job, and be happy skiing.”
Then it all changed. In 2016, at the end of a day of skiing at a local Utah ski resort, Brody decided to hit one more big jump. Uncharacteristically, Brody miscalculated and was instantly “backseated”: his legs flew out in front of him and he was unable to correct in the air. He hit the ground and immediately knew his back had broken. He was rushed to the ER, where it was determined that the impact of the crash had resulted in a compression fracture of his T12 vertebrae. Most likely he was never going to walk again, let alone strap on a pair of skis. Upon waking up in the hospital, after a moment of self-reflection, Brody promised his fiancée, Kendra, that he was not only going to make good on his promise to marry her, but that he was also going to do it standing up, and he was intent on working even harder towards accomplishing his goals—including getting back up on the mountain.
After months of intense rehabilitation, which included a painful few weeks redeveloping the core strength needed just to sit upright without assistance, Brody was able to stand at his wedding with the assistance of a walker. A year later, his doctor finally gave him the OK to get back up on the mountain. As a young child, Brody had learned how to ski through the mentorship of skiing legend Peter Mandler, who also happened to be the founder of Wasatch Adaptive Sports, a nonprofit organization that focuses on helping individuals with adaptive needs to reach their potential though various recreational programs. Brody contacted Wasatch Adaptive Sports and told them he wanted to ski with his wife and family again. They introduced him to the monoski and a year later videos of him attacking the area’s most challenging runs could be seen all over social media.
While his story may sound like a Disney movie, it is filled with the daily realities of being in a wheelchair. As a lifelong athlete and adrenaline junky, accepting physical limitations was something totally new to Brody, and it isn’t always easy. Once he got out of the hospital, he wasn’t constantly surrounded by people to help him; it was up to him to figure out the emotional roller coaster that comes with such a drastic life change.
“There are times when you’ve got to cry. It stinks. I have memories of cliff jumping at Lake Powell and just doing crazy things with my friends. Sometimes it’s sad, but I have to push them aside and remember the opportunities I have now and how great my life is going…”
Along with accepting the new challenges of everyday tasks that he once took for granted, like driving and going to the store, his future was now up in the air. Faced with the reality of supporting his new wife and hopefully (soon) a growing family, he realized that construction jobs weren’t an option and he was going to have to develop his mind. Along with his ski training, Brody now somehow manages to balance full-time work and a full load at Utah Valley University as a student in the business department. He’s also beginning to make his rounds in the community, including having the recent opportunity to share his amazing story with the employees of dōTERRA International, LLC at their global campus in Pleasant Grove, Utah. Every day he’s becoming increasingly motivated to share his positivity with anybody who may be experiencing their own challenges, and the opportunities are multiplying.
“I don’t feel inspirational,” says Brody. “I am just doing what I do. I see people getting excited when I ski past them and it pumps me up. Now, if I see others in wheelchairs in the halls at school or even just out and about in the community, I introduce myself and ask if they want to come skiing with me. It’s awesome.”
Brody’s entire mindset has changed. He was always a positive, happy-go-lucky person, but now he has combined that positive attitude with a new perspective on the general goodness of people and an unwavering sense of belief that his potential is limitless. He’s also come to realize that the more he challenges himself, even if he falls, the easier it becomes.
“The more I do, the more opportunities I get. I’m a yes-man instead of a no-man. It’s a choice. You can choose to look at falling as a personal failure or something that is permanent, or get back up, push through it, and learn from it.”
Brody is now a member of the official Snowbird ski team and hoping to begin seriously training next year to represent the United States by taking his monoski to the Paralympics and possibly the X-games. Follow Brody on Instagram @Brody_snowbird as he continues (mono)skiing his way through life and inspiring others to take adversity and turn it into adventure.
Dr. Damian Rodriguez is the health and exercise scientist for doTERRA International, LLC. He holds a doctorate in health science, a master’s degree in exercise physiology, and countless professional certifications. He has spent most of his life researching nutrition, exercise, and the lifestyle behaviors associated with optimal health. Along with his passion for health, as someone who lives with Asperger’s Syndrome, he is also involved in bringing awareness to autism spectrum disorders. There are varying opinions about many health and fitness topics. His opinions are his own and not necessarily that of doTERRA International, LLC. Consult your healthcare provider before making any changes to diet and exercise.