Chelsie Thompson, current rugby player at the University of Alabama, was always involved in sports throughout high school but it was not until college that she fell in love with the game of rugby. Thompson is currently in her second year of playing but due to an ACL injury in her first semester, she has only been playing on the field for a year and a half.
Thompson got started in rugby when one of her old swim teammates suggested the game to her. From there, she was hooked on the sport. She explains, “I participated in many sports in high school so I knew I wanted to carry some of that over with me when I got to college. I just didn’t know what. I got into rugby when a former swim teammate, Shakeria Hall, asked me to play. I had nothing else to do so I went to one practice and fell in love.”
There is no other place Thompson would rather play rugby than at the University of Alabama. She loves her coaches for the rugby and life lessons that they have given her and the patience they have with her when they teach her the game. “I would not want to play or be coached by any other team or coaches then the ones at Alabama. (Coach Bags and Pony) . My coaches are amazing and have been there helping me with not only lessons on the field but also general life lessons and suggestions that will carry on with me throughout life. I am amazed at their patience with me also since they usually have to explain a set or direction multiple times before I fully catch on. But Alabama rugby is truly like a second family to me. I have made some friendships that will last a lifetime and I would not trade for anything,” said Thompson.
Thompson’s favorite part about Alabama rugby is their pregame ritual where they all put their differences aside and get in a circle and hype each other up. Her favorite moment comes from a game where Alabama and LSU faced off. She explained, “My favorite moment was probably the LSU game we had recently were we started off losing and our team spirt was down and we were becoming very frustrated and not connecting which is big for our team because when we connect with each other we play “Bama rugby” as we call it. When I scored the first try I saw the entire attitude of or team change and I saw everyone get hype off something I did which made me feel like I actually could make a difference on my team. From there the tone of the game was different and we were able to come back and tie the game.”
Rugby means the world to Thompson. She sees it as an outlet for her to be herself and it is a judgment free zone. She sees rugby as a family atmosphere. “Rugby gives me an outlet to be myself and not worry about anyone judging me for it which is what I love most. It has allowed me to learn to be selfless and confident in myself. Overall rugby is a family to me. I have some type of bond with each person on our team that has in some way impacted me. It’s a part of my college life that I will never forget. Rugby has opened many doors for me in life,” said Thompson.
Best of luck to Chelsie and the rest of the Alabama women’s rugby team as they take on the University of Georgia in the playoffs!