Considerable: Thompson rises from the ashes with family, immediate and team
At first glance most would write her off as undersized, an extremely unlikely selection to play post in basketball, become a member of the military police security force or tackle a quarterback as a defensive end; what are the odds?
Then again, 22-year-old Corrisa Thompson has been defying odds throughout her young life, doing the aforementioned through grit, grace and the unwavering support of her family and teammates.
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. She also knew she wanted to forge her own career path.
“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. “I homeschooled after my sophomore year with my main priority being to graduate early and leave for military service, ship out right away with the Air Force.”
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. “I suffered a bad knee injury and that took me out. It was very hard. I loved my job …”
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. And before she could find the job that she could make a career, Thompson again faced adversity in regard to her health.
“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.
Until she found her … team.
“It has been hard for me, but when I found the football team on Facebook, I was quick to hit’em up,” Thompson said. “I went to tryouts and joined the team. It’s something I really needed, something to look forward to every day, and that’s definitely what it’s done for me.”
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. The WFA is the largest 11-on-11 league for women in the world as well as being the longest running active league of its kind in the U.S.
Having played both softball and basketball, Thompson wasn’t necessarily out of her depth in taking on the sport. But mixing it up with full pads and a helmet against women twice her size or more?
“I was a pitcher in softball and played post in basketball … that was my sport, elementary through high school,” Thompson said. “So, I was always small for my position, but I was always able to stand my ground.”
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. “With that speed and tenacity, she’s a tough player to go up against
“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. “When you least expect it, teammates are checking up on each other. If they notice I’m having a bad day, my teammates are right there for me. I’m not one to open up very much, either, so they’ve definitely made a big impact on my life. We’re just one big family.”
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. They try to make every home game and Emily will be traveling to Wisconsin for our game out there,” Thompson said. “Family is everything.”
The Snow Leopards’ game in Milwaukee, Wis. is the return fixture in the team’s three-team regional home/away series against the Midwest Mountain Lions – the team SF blanked 28-0, May 7 at the University of Sioux Falls’ Bob Young Field. The Snow Leopards not only scored their first touchdown of the season in that game, having claimed a 2-0 victory over the Minnesota Minx (based in the Twin Cities) on a safety the week prior, but also rose to the top of the division – wiping out the memories of last year’s winless campaign.
“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. “We didn’t have the organization or structure, so applying that this year we’ve seen leaps and bounds. And we needed minor tweaks from the first game to this one; we made them and played well today.”
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.D. to Sioux Falls. And as the league has grown, a third division was inserted into the WFA – making the developmental division the fourth tier.
“We’ve (WFA) been around for years, and we had a huge growth spurt in the last few years,” Coach Marler said. “They addressed that before this year and created four divisions; developmental, DIII, DII and Pro. Last year we were DIII because there wasn’t a developmental division, but if we keep performing the way we have been so far this season, we’ll move up to DIII next year. That’s the goal. Since me, my wife and a player took over ownership mid-season last year, we’ve only progressed. It’s very exciting.”
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 he’s very organized and patient. Those are my favorite things about him; we can be going through drills everything on time and if there’s a problem he’s not going to get in your face, he’s going to talk you through it to fix the mistakes. His wife Carissa came from rugby, so football is a learning experience for all of us, and we’re learning together. TJ and the rest of our coaches have been a tremendous help; if wasn’t for them, compared to last year, we wouldn’t be 2-0 (at the time).”
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.
“She’s come so far,” Coach Marler said. “The thing I love about Corissa is her grit. She’s really a utility player for us; we can put her anywhere. Tonight, she played defensive end, nose guard, tight end and outside linebacker; she’s all over the field. And on kick return she’s called our snipper, roving around looking to mix it up. She’s a hard hitter and a hard player, and I love to have her on this team. What she gives up in size, she makes up for with tenacity.”
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. “Some are scared to do it. I’m not that big. I’m 130 pounds wet and there are times I line up as nose guard against someone three times my size. I’m normally double teamed on the line. Not everyone has my speed, which helps, and my teammates Amanda (Steffen) and Emmy (Marko) are bigger than me, but I try to hit just as hard. It’s all about the heart and how bad you want something.”
“And what we’re trying to do is more than just women playing football. We want to inspire young women and especially girls; we want to show them they can do whatever they want as long as they set their minds to it and support each other. Together we rise.”
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- What can team around the family help with?
- Are you the first in your immediate family to attend college?
- How do you make paint from ashes?
- What can be made from human ashes?
- Where is Casey Thompson from?
- Where is Isaiah Thompson from?
- Where is Jennifer Thompson from?
- When and where is the next Ashes Test?
- Who is Bennie Thompson from Mississippi?
- What does considerable amount mean?
We could help families with all kinds of different things, such as;problems in school.disability within the family.parenting problems.anti-social behaviour / behavioural difficulties.health and emotional wellbeing.misuse of alcohol and drugs.teenage pregnancy.housing issues.
You can even make your own paint with the assistance of ash, the remaining compounds of a burned object.
- Obtain the appropriate ash for the paint. ...
- Add a binder to the pigments. ...
- Add some water to your paint mixture. ...
- Add food coloring or another color pigment to change the color of the paint.