Archive for Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Marked man

Tattoos tell tale of Free State wrestler

Free State wrestler Chris Thompson had his sophomore and junior seasons derailed by shoulder injuries. Thompson, who has found opponents are intimidated by his tattoos, has set his sights on state this year.

Free State wrestler Chris Thompson had his sophomore and junior seasons derailed by shoulder injuries. Thompson, who has found opponents are intimidated by his tattoos, has set his sights on state this year.

December 12, 2007


Three questions with ... Free State senior wrestler Chris Thompson

Chris Thompson, who wrestles at 135 pounds, talks about his tattoos and his final season on the mat. Enlarge video

Chris Thompson shows off the family tree tattoo on his back.

Chris Thompson shows off the family tree tattoo on his back.

Branded with tattoos from front to back, Free State senior Chris Thompson is a much nicer person than his opponents believe.

"I kind of like it, though," the Firebirds' 135-pound wrestler says about his opponents' ideas that he's some kind of a rebel. "Before matches, guys will talk about my tattoos, and I guess they're kind of a little intimidated. It's cool."

So are the tattoos.

The first, a nine-inch inscription of the word "forgiven," which slides down the right side of Thompson's rib cage, is indicative of his devotion to God.

A second, two matching sparrows on the upper portion of his chest, are self-made, pieces of art that he drew for a friend shortly after she died a few years ago.

The last, and most recent, is a giant family tree on his back. It's not finished yet. He's planning to add color to it and maybe a few more branches. Hidden in the massive tree are three initials, "B," "C" and "S." They have nothing to do with college football, rather are the first initials of himself and his two siblings. At the base of the tree in large, root-like writing is the word "Mom."

"She's done a lot for me and has been a single parent and has always been there for us," Thompson said. "I just wanted to have something to show how much I appreciate that."

Thompson moved to Lawrence from Arizona four years ago. At the time, he played all the sports and loved each one equally.

"About junior high, everyone else just kept getting taller and kept growing, and I didn't," Thompson said. "When I got here, a teacher of mine suggested I go out for wrestling, and I've been in love with the sport ever since."

Thompson says his favorite part about the sport is the way it allows individuals to compete together for the good of the team. Every time he steps on the mat, he does so with the mentality of winning his own individual match. But he admits that knowing a victory will help the team pushes him a little harder.

So far wrestling hasn't been too kind to Thompson. Sure, he's made great friends, become a key part of a talented team and had his share of glory moments. But he's never been able to finish a season.

As a sophomore, at 112 pounds, Thompson injured his right rotator cuff in the first match of the season. A couple of weeks later the pain had become too much to bear, and he had to shut it down for the season.

Last year, as a 119-pound junior, Thompson entered the season healthy and with high hopes. A couple of weeks after winter break, those hopes were dealt a blow when the same rotator cuff, which actually never healed properly, began to give him problems. Once again, Thompson's season was cut short.

"To get injured twice like that was tough," Thompson admitted. "I still worked hard at practice and went to every meet, but I couldn't do anything on the mat."

That brings Thompson to this year. He's been here before. Healthy, excited and eager to finish something he's really just started.

"He's got that mental attitude you have to have," Firebirds coach Paul Lappin said. "He'll just keep battling until he can't anymore. This year, I see he's a little more excited, a little more driven."

A big reason for that is because Thompson knows this is his last shot at reaching the state tournament. His committment to the team only makes his drive stronger.

"Of course I want to get (to state), I'm going this year," Thompson said. "But I'm also focusing on being a leader and helping the team."

Neither aspect of Thompson's make-up surprised Lappin, who said the senior has what it takes to get to state and earn a medal while there.

"As long as he keeps improving - and stays healthy - I expect him to place at state," Lappin said.

That middle part, the healthy part, has been Thompson's biggest obstacle so far. He's hoping any more he encounters during his final go-around weigh 135 pounds.

"(The rotator cuff) hasn't given me any pain at all yet, so I hope it will just go away," Thompson said. "I think wrestling with it like this and working out with it all summer has made it stronger."

There's a room full of people in the FSHS wrestling room who hope that's true.

"You definitely find yourself pulling for him," Lappin said. "He hasn't had a chance to show what he's made of yet and we're all hoping he gets that chance this season."


jumpin_catfish 10 years, 3 months ago

I want a tattoo so I can be different, you know just like all the other dumbies who have them.

Kathy Theis-Getto 10 years, 3 months ago

I remember when guys first started growing their hair long in the 60's, and the prejudice that followed. Appearance does not make the person.

aedavid22 10 years, 3 months ago


Yeah tattoos are for dumbies!(nice spelling jackass)

somebodynew 10 years, 3 months ago

I thought there was an age limit for shops to follow???

funkdog1 10 years, 3 months ago

How can he be an 18 year old sophomore?

Amanda Woodward Davis 10 years, 3 months ago

This is his senior year. . . article talked about his junior season last year.

lawrence_citizen 10 years, 3 months ago

I think if you have your parent sign a consent form, they can be younger than 18.

Adrienne Sanders 10 years, 3 months ago

Funkdog, read the article, he's a senior now. The article doesn't say exactly how long he's had these tattoos but either he's gotten them since he turned 18, or his mom gave him permission (you can get them under 18 with permission), or he got them illegally. (GASP!)

That tree is really nice.

ramsrevenge 10 years, 3 months ago

1, He's a senior and B, if your parent or guardian signs off for you, you can get them anytime.

My first tat came at age 8. My mom and I got matching butterflies.

acg 10 years, 3 months ago

I love it that jumpin'catfish decides he's going to make a hasty generalization about people that have tattoos by questioning their intelligence and then spells his insult incorrectly. rofl! Yeah, those tattoo having "dumbies", what are ya gonna do, eh?

kneejerkreaction 10 years, 3 months ago

That's gonna hurt when he finally gets sick of them.

Wendy magillicutty 10 years, 3 months ago

yeah, what a dumbie kid. he's got devotion, grace, love for Mom and strong familial respect. plus, he has goals with responsibility folded in. Yeah, he's a "dumbie".

justawatcher 10 years, 3 months ago

Just like everyone to be stereotypical. There are many reasons behind someone getting a tattoo. Is fair to say that someone with blond hair is a dumb@$$, that someone who is short can not be good at sports and someone who grew up with bad parents is going to be bad parents. Get over it. Everyone leads a different lifestyle.

A teenager at the age of sixteen can get a tattoo with a parent's consent. At least at most shops.

SayWhat 10 years, 3 months ago

Every comment is about the kid's tattoos. I hope he stays healthy and enjoys his senior year. Let's just accept the reality that he probably got his tattoos to express his individuality... just like everyone else.

sun45kiss 10 years, 3 months ago

what a dumb article...what's the matter nothing positive going on. I know alot of the wrestlers on the Free State team and you did them a disserve by doing this stupid article about a kid who thinks it's cool that his tattoos intimidate people.. Boy how easy it would be to take him down. To bad he's not a heavy weight, he might have to wrestle our State Champion who has no tattoos.

Christine Pennewell Davis 10 years, 3 months ago

it is the tat that makes you diffrent not that you got one.

tangles762000 10 years, 3 months ago

I am his mother and yes I gave him permission to get tattoos. does your life consist of reading the paper and taking time to negate what someone does in thier life, does it make you feel superior? I am his mom and I have raised a fine young man and he is also a straight A student, hows that for being a dumbie! Just because he has tattoos does not mean he is bad, this kid would do anything for you, he would give you the shirt off his back. So the next time you want to make yourselves feel better by talking about someone else, look in the mirror and speak freely.

Christine Pennewell Davis 10 years, 3 months ago

tangles just to clarify I was trying to support him and you but have been sick today and nothing is coming out right. Loved the family tree and the doves he drew himself. Sorry he lost a friend so young.

ljworld2go 10 years, 3 months ago

What's the point of the article, there's nothing outstanding deserving of the attention about the kid. every person is special in their own unique way, but that doesn't mean that everyone should hvae an article written about them. That being said, I hope he does well his last year, the same hope I have for everyone... My opinion about the tattoos is the same s kozakid, there are plenty of other ways you can show your appreciation for those important things in your life. I bet, most people who get tattoos regret it eventually.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.