By Luca Williams
“Remember the past. Think of the future. Live in the now.” — Ryan Brooks
When you are the smallest kid in junior high in Arlington, Texas, you are bound to get bullied, like head stuck in the toilet bullied. Ryan, or Little Ry as his friends have called him for years, was that kid until he found his best defense, and it wasn’t karate. “When I made the bullies laugh they stopped bullying me. They wanted to be my friend.”
But all that laughter didn’t make him any taller. By the time he got his driver’s license at sixteen years old, it read 4 feet 8 inches. He had to sit on a pillow to see over the steering wheel. That experience of being bullied for his height made Ryan realize that he wanted to help uplift people because he didn’t want others to feel the way he had when he had been bullied.
Ryan first discovered snowboarding back in Arlington, Texas when he watched a snowboarding video of Mike (Tex) Davenport. “I wanted to snowboard like Tex,” Ryan said. He had found someone to look up to and he found his passion. Besides, you don’t have to be tall to be a strong snowboarder. It may even be an advantage to have a lower center of gravity. After high school, he spent years chasing snow in Colorado until he moved to Washington. The cliffs and conditions of Mt. Baker humbled him. Not that he’s one to complain about conditions. He can often be found snowboarding in the rain in his waterproof Grunden gear with a big smile on his face.
In 2016, Ryan started his log home restoration business, Mtn. Acres Log Home Restoration, inspired by all the folks that have found a way to make life work at the end of a dead end highway. Employing local residents (friends who love to snowboard as much as him), the company does energy sealing and chinking in the winter 2-6 p.m.
“It’s in my contract that I don’t work before 2 p.m. in the winter so I can ride every morning,” Ryan said.
In the summers, they pressure wash, sandblast and stain log homes, as well as repair and replace logs, working overtime to make up for their mellower winter schedule. He’s created a lifestyle where he loves surrounding himself with people who want to work and play as hard as he does.
Ryan isn’t that little anymore, but he never lost his nickname and what he doesn’t have in height he makes up for with personality. People just want to be friends with him because he’s always got a smile on his face. He makes time to say hello and listen — really listen — and connect with you and your kids. He’s a positive role model for his friends’ kids, and he shows them what his role models showed him: “Work hard to play hard.”
Ryan’s favorite stretch for snowboarding is the figure four:
Lie on your back with your feet flat on the floor.
Cross your right ankle over your left knee.
Bring your left knee toward your chest. Reach your right hand through your legs and interlace your fingers around your the back of your left thigh.
Using your arms, pull your left knee toward your chest, pausing when you feel a stretch in your right glute and hip. Make sure to keep your back and head flat on the floor.
Hold there for at least five breaths, then release and repeat on your left side.
Luca Williams is a certified rolfer in Glacier. She helps snowboarders, skiers and other outdoor enthusiasts get aligned and out of pain.