We introduce you to Brittany Maddocks
Greetings again internet, today we have the story of a girl from Fort Collins, Colorado who went has journeyed far in her quest for American Ninja Warrior (ANW).
Brittany is a Colorado girl through and through, growing up just outside of Fort Collins and graduating from Colorado State University, and naturally loves being outdoors. She grew up trying “basically all sports…except dance.” She did tennis, swimming, soccer, volleyball, gymnastics, as well as others but she didn’t really find the one she loved until she discovered climbing. She took immediately to climbing at the age of 14 and made it her primary focus. Brittany loved climbing so much that she became really, really good at it; she won local competitions and took her skills to the national stage. She started competing nationally against the best climbers in the country, and while that stage can bring out the best in us…but it can also bring out the worst.
It was on that stage that Brittany realized that she had become too competitive with the sport and it began to take her to dark places, eventually developing an eating disorder. You see, all the best climbers are waifish and lean, and you start to think to yourself: ‘what if I lost just a few more pounds…’and then it never stops. Realizing that she needed to make a change, she quit the sport she loved, and decided to focus on herself and her health, rather than wondering if she was “too heavy for the climbing wall.”
Enter Ninja Warrior. As a youth, she loved watching the show Sasuke, and then when ANW started up, she wasn’t old enough due to the 21-year-old age requirement. So while all her friends were excited to drink on their 21st birthdays, while she eagerly awaited hers. When she turned 21, she applied to ANW and received a call from the producers, but not an invitation to compete, which was heartbreaking knowing that she was one foot in the door but not quite there yet. It was then that she met her current boyfriend Justin, a personal trainer himself, and they made a deal that he would help train her if she would teach him to climb. That deal worked out well for them. She doesn’t climb as much anymore but they love to go to the mountains and hike, particularly the Red Feather Lakes high above Fort Collins.
Being a Colorado girl to her core she prefers training with and around nature. One of her favorite ways is to go out in inclement weather, where the situation (and safety) is always changing: jumping to and from rocks where gusts of wind or snow can improve balance, coordination, and adaptability. This is especially true with an obstacle that has become a nemesis of hers: the quintuple steps.
In 2016 she was finally called back onto season 8 of ANW and was slated to run in Indianapolis. It had been raining all week and most everyone was delayed until the next evening. Tensions were high and those who anticipated running the first night spent it waiting, trying to stay warmed up and dry. When things got pushed, it was both a relief and a curse; while she could wait for another (hopefully drier) day, the whole process would have to start anew and she would have to prepare herself mentally and physically yet again. When Brittany finally had her moment on stage, the one singular nightmare that all ninja warrior competitors have, happened. Brittany took off onto the quintuple steps, ANW’s signature first obstacle and on the third step, she just missed. She missed and she fell into the water below ending her run before it could really even begin. Her years of training, of hard work and of dedication gone in a snap; “Everyone watching, that’s what they got off my athleticism is three steps.” She probably doesn’t remember that I was getting cleaned up by the medic when she walked through the backstage; I can tell you personally that I have never seen such shock, horror or dejection on a person like I saw on Brittany with her boyfriend Justin, keeping her warm with the infamous red towel and newly made friends gathering around. It was the hardest time of her life, “which makes me sound really privileged” she says with a laugh. While I John McConnell would have likely quit, Brittany is a better person than I chose to fight for her future. I told everyone before traveling to Indianapolis that the only outcome I would have been truly disappointed with was falling on the first obstacle, and Brittany got to live that first hand.
Brittany took some time to reflect and she wanted to put everything into perspective. While she “had fun,” she was too focused on the end result of ANW glory and lost her vision on what was in front of her. Now her training mentality is hugely focused on just having fun and not pushing herself to crazy limits. ANW is a lifestyle to her, and while it can be ultra-competitive, she wants to focus on having fun while competing, and not the other way around. “It can’t all be about competition; it has about having fun because, at the end of the day, American Ninja Warrior is so much fun.” She loves the relationships that come with meeting the other ninjas; she’s met with local ninjas and the Wolfpack; that is the joy of the sport to her. Her favorite ninja, beside herself, is Dan Yeager of the Wolfpack: “his wife is amazing, his kids are amazing and I just love him.”
She is hopeful that she will get a call back to Denver this year since it is her hometown but if she doesn’t, she will accept that fate. She works too much and too hard to stand in the two-week long walk-on line: what comes, comes. Nowadays she helps run a lipstick business called LipSense, which has a lipstick that lasts 18 hours (that is a long time I’m told) and she jokes that if she falls into the water this year, she’ll “still look fantastic!”
She feels like now she is far more mentally prepared than she was: she never really got to prove herself physically and she knows she is up to the challenge. She spent some of this last year working with mentally challenged individuals, which put her in countless stressful situations that forced her to adapt and overcome challenges. It helped her to stay calm and composed when “shit hits the fan.” She knows that nearly everyone who makes it onto the course is physically capable of the challenge and what truly separates the finalists from everyone else is the mental game: those who are able to control their nerves and keep their stress managed. She thought that she could handle her mental game well, due to her having competed on a national stage with climbing, but she was wrong; ANW was “literally the most insane feeling I have ever felt.”
Now that’s what motivates her: working on and perfecting herself. She’s been eating healthy, lifting more, trying to round out her training regiment, and becoming a person she can be happy with and proud of. In a world of prize money, Instagram followers and sponsorship deals, it’s refreshing to see someone with themselves as the goal. Brittany is a perennially positive person and has the will to fight on where many would have stopped, accepting those who said, “At least you made it to the show!” She is one of those individuals who will have her breakthrough and crush the ANW stage; when she does it will be bold, powerful and impressive. She has the resume and the pedigree to destroy the course and when she gets her next shot I hope I am there to see it.
Thanks everyone for making it to the end, please leave your thoughts below and wish Brittany good luck in the coming season!
PS. Lightning Round!
Favorite Pet: Favorite Pet: Her favorite pet is her kitten, Asher!
Super Power of Choice: “My favorite super power would be the ability to refill anything! Empty bank account? REFILL IT!! Your ice cream container is empty? REFILL IT!”
Favorite Movie: Goodwill hunting, because it’s just the best.