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Brooke Wells is Resilient

November 29, 2023 by
Photo Credit: Enrique Villaseñor
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Brooke Wells is one of the most well-known athletes in CrossFit. As a 19-year-old college student, she burst onto the scene by winning the 2015 Central Regional and she hasn’t looked back since.

With eight consecutive CrossFit Games appearances that span from Carson to Madison, including 2020, when she was one of only five women who qualified to compete in person at the CrossFit Ranch in Aromas, Wells has cemented her name among the CrossFit Games greats.

Her forthcoming book, Resilient: The Untold Story of CrossFit’s Greatest Comeback, shines a light on the mental realities of a professional athlete faced with extreme adversity.

Who’s behind it: Similar to Mat Fraser’s HWPO, and Rich Froning’s First: What It Takes to Win, Brooke Wells’ Resilient was written by an established author through months of in-depth research and interviews. Unique from the others, this writer has first-hand perspective, as she was present in the tunnel in 2021 as the events that precipitated the writing of the book began.

  • Christine Bald is the talented bard who tugs at heartstrings through Instagram captions in her on-the-ground photojournalism. 
  • She has authored three books prior to this one: Ben Bergeron’s Chasing Excellence (2017), Unlocking Potential (2021), and What is the Way?, the children’s book by Annie Thorisdottir and Katrin Davidsdottir released in late 2021. 
  • Bald and Wells first met when the author was working as Director of Media at CompTrain in Natick, MA.

Autographed copies of Resilient are available for pre-order now with an official publication date of January 16, 2024.

Photo Credit: Alex Trobough

Some Details: Resilient opens by taking readers behind the curtain of Wells’ infamous elbow injury during the one-rep max snatch event of the 2021 CrossFit Games. If you, like us, remember exactly where you were when witnessing it, you now experience it, for the first time, through the intimate lens of Wells’ inner dialogue:

  • “The barbell rolls off of me, flinging me backward. As I fall, a shrill, primal sound I can’t place pierces the air and echoes around the coliseum, one hundred times louder and more terrible than any storm. Someone is screaming, but sprawled on my back with my legs in the air, I can’t tell where it’s coming from. My vision is darkening. I have no sense of time or space; no sense of anything. Then pain, white hot, erupts from my elbow and with a jolt of terror I realize it’s me. I’m the one screaming.

What does it feel like to work every single day for your goal and to have it ripped from your grasp in one moment? Wells details every aching moment:

  • “Dr. Rockett tries to console me while splinting my arm. You’ll be back, Brooke.
    Back? I want to scream. I am back! Back from the line I stepped on during the 2019 Games that disqualified me from the sprint event and prevented me from making the final cut that year. Back from the calf injury that prevented me from performing to my potential at the 2020 Games. This was supposed to be my year. Until twenty minutes ago, it was my year.”
  • “This cannot be happening. Not again. An avalanche of shock, incredulity, grief, and powerlessness is burying me alive. I can’t breathe, feel or think.”

Step by step, we experience the injury, surgery, recovery, and redemption of Brooke Wells’ miraculous return to competition only one year after tragedy.

Resilient is organized chronologically, first counting down the days until the 2022 Open, then counting up the days post elbow surgery. This strategy, labeling each chapter on this continuum, allows the reader to grasp how these days for Wells could pass quickly and slowly at the same time. Each chapter is titled a single word or phrase signficant for that chapter, like “Snap,” “Grief,” “Tommy John” and “Not Today.” 

Internet critics have jeered at the book being released after missing a qualifying spot for the 2023 CrossFit Games. 

“Isn’t it irrelevant now?” they mock.

No. In fact, reading the story of Brooke’s 2021 to 2022 recovery and comeback, we feel a new level of heartache in reflection of this year’s result. 

The bittersweet moments between training partner Tia-Clair Toomey and Brooke Wells in the back rooms of the Madison, WI Alliant Energy Center give perspective to what we witnessed between Brooke and her twin sister, Sydney, in Orlando, FL at the end of the 2023 North America East Semifinal. 

If anything, we’re craving an epilogue.

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