Meet Bry Liggins, the Events Coordinator in our newest Chicago home, Brooklyn Boulders Lincoln Park. Our community is strengthened by Bry’s passions for the arts, nature and laughing her way through life.
Tell us about how you first started climbing.
My very first climbing experience actually happened when I was 10 years old and spotted a huge popup climbing wall at the Tulsa State Fair. I absolutely had to try it out. I scaled to the top and couldn’t believe how much fun I was having. I also couldn’t believe how high I was. I froze and had to have been up there crying for at least 15 minutes before I finally had the courage to let go. Climbing was NOT for me.
Flash forward 10 years and I move to Chicago for school. I’m randomly assigned a new roommate who, and I can not stress this enough, was very cool. An incredible artist with a love for the outdoors and just an overall great human. It didn’t take long for her to organize an outdoor club on campus. I was invited to join the club for an outing that just so happened to be at a climbing wall. I was way out of my element for sure, but I had a cool new roommate to impress so now was not the time to chicken out. Though I was hesitant, things went differently this time around. I felt so inspired and supported by this community that I couldn’t wait to hit the walls again!
How has climbing impacted your life?
I never considered myself to be an “athletic” person. I was a theatre kid who discovered pretty early that sports just weren’t my thing. In hindsight, I was limiting myself in more ways than one. I’d hardly try anything active assuming that I fail instantly. If I wasn’t a natural, I’d beat myself up for wasting everyone’s time. Climbing was the first sport to help me realize that making mistakes and failing was a crucial step towards figuring problems out. The perfectionist in me now takes that lesson with me in everything I do. Whether it’s my creative endeavors, work or even in building new relationships, I’m constantly reminded to go for it, whatever it is and to be grateful for every mistake I make getting there.
Climbing was the first sport to help me realize that making mistakes and failing was a crucial step towards figuring problems out. The perfectionist in me now takes that lesson with me in everything I do. Whether it’s my creative endeavors, work or even in building new relationships, I’m constantly reminded to go for it, whatever it is and to be grateful for every mistake I make getting there.
How do you hope to impact the world of climbing?
I hope I can serve as a friend and resource to those who are starting their climbing journey. It’s easy to feel defeated, especially in the beginning. Having a support system in place encouraging you to work at your own pace and reminding you to take note of how your body responds to certain movements can be such a game changer. To play a role in empowering new climbers to find their groove is such a rewarding experience I’m lucky to be a part of at BKB.
Tell us about a womxn who has been an integral part of your journey so far.
I thought long and hard about this one and while there’s no shortage of awe inspiring womxn in my life, I’m going to give credit to myself here. For as long as I can remember, I’ve considered everything I’ve ever accomplished to be due to the help and support of someone else. Climbing has completely changed my life and and embarking on this journey is something I never in a million years could have predicted. I’m taking this moment to finally OWN taking the step to overcome my fears and step outside of my comfort zone. I’m proud of how far I’ve come and hope I can remember this incredible feeling every time things start to get scary and self-doubt starts creeping in. It’s all going to be okay. 🙂
Why does representation matter to you?
Representation is everything! Growing up, I looked up to those who looked like me. As I grew older and started developing my own path, I saw less and less of myself in these new arenas and questioned if I belonged. When I found myself continuing to be the only black girl in a space, I felt the overwhelming need to represent my community in the most positive light. To prove that we belong and deserve a seat at the table, too. No pressure. It took me a long, long while to understand that this was not my responsibility. That governing my behavior with so many limitations and restricitons was a disserrvice to myself. Though I’m still learning how to navigate this issue, I’m hoping to not only feel empowered to try new things whether or not I see myself reflected within that community, but to help foster safe spaces for minorities to thrive within them.