Considerable: Thompson rises from the ashes with family, immediate and team
A Pipestone Area student from kindergarten through eighth-grade, before transferring to Edgerton for high school, the daughter of Douglas and Kathy Thompson always knew she wanted to join the military – carry on a family tradition. “My brother Aaron is an Army veteran; I had a grandfather serve in Vietnam and a couple of relatives in WWI and WWII, all with the Army or Marines, so I wanted to do something different,” Thompson said. It was full steam ahead for Thompson with the Air Force, serving as part of the military police security force for a year-and-a-half before an injury abruptly changed the trajectory of her path. “I’d wanted to make a career out of military service, do a full 20 years, but life had different plans,” she said. Shattered by the loss of her dream of lifelong military service, Thompson perused the market for 18 months, taking jobs ranging from building water towers to working a desk. “Last summer I was diagnosed with uterine cancer, so I made my way back to Pipestone,” she explained. Opting to forgo chemotherapy or radiation treatment, Thompson had a full hysterectomy performed, noting she can “steal one of her five nieces whenever she wants, fill her up with sugar and send her right back home. Certainly, Thompson, who has recently been told she’s in the early stages of remission, can offer a wry smile or joke – now – but there’s no doubt the health crises she sustained had her in the doldrums. “It has been hard for me, but when I found the football team on Facebook, I was quick to hit’em up,” Thompson said. Thompson’s team, the Sioux Falls Snow Leopards, is a developmental team in the fourth tier of the Women’s Football Alliance, a professional full-contact football tackle league that began play in 2009.
Having played both softball and basketball, Thompson wasn’t necessarily out of her depth in taking on the sport. “I was a pitcher in softball and played post in basketball … that was my sport, elementary through high school,” Thompson said. So well that Thompson played youth basketball on scholarship, at the University of Florida, the entire summer at the age of 16 – returning to school three weeks after the term began. And as teammates can attest, Thompson – who stands at five feet, eight inches and weighs 130 pounds – is more than up for the challenge of taking on players more than two times her size. “Corissa’s size doesn’t matter to her, she makes up for it right away,” said Snow Leopards nose tackle Molly Strandmark. “She’s strong out there, a big part of our defense, and she’s a really good teammate; she’s out there for everyone, and everyone is out there for her. Which is a big part of why joining the Snow Leopards has been so therapeutic for Thompson, mentally and physically, in battling cancer. With the motto ‘Together We Rise,’ Thompson immediately had additional ‘family’ supporting her when she needed it most. “There’s no way to rise without each other out there, and being part of this has helped pull me out of a dark place,” she said. A family that has enveloped Thompson’s ultra-supportive immediate family as part of its fanbase, helping the 2022 Snow Leopards get off to a 2-1 start after going winless last year – during the team’s first season in Sioux Falls.
“I’m a big family person and everyone in my family comes out to the games … my parents, brother, sister-in-law, my five nieces and Emily Hendrickson – my fiancé. “In the past, yes, we’ve struggled to score” said Snow Leopards second-year head coach TJ Marler after their victory over the Mountain Lions. Marler not only coaches the Snow Leopards, he, wife/quarterback Carissa Marler and another team member own the squad, having taken the reins last year when the club moved from Brookings, S. “We’ve (WFA) been around for years, and we had a huge growth spurt in the last few years,” Coach Marler said. And like her teammates, Coach Marler is as empathetic and supportive as anyone on the field. “TJ is always ready to listen, always knows how I’m feeling – a family guy who treats us all like family,” Thompson said. And the admiration is mutual, as Coach Marler has been witness to and engaged in helping Thompson rise from the ashes to become a key member of the larger team. A tenacity Thompson hopes to continue to share with her teammates as they look to embolden women to try something different and grasp opportunities that might not previously been offered. “Sometimes, you have to give it a shot and see if you like it, stick your necks out,” said Thompson, whose physicians are impressed with how much muscle she’s been able to build since her diagnosis and dropping to 115 pounds. “And what we’re trying to do is more than just women playing football.
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