THULE AIR BASE, Greenland --
While on her first leave from the Air Force, Airman 1st Class Carlye Thompson, 821st Security Forces Squadron entry controller, competed in a sport not many are familiar with. Thompson competed with 18 other teammates from Team USA at the World Ringette Championship in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada, Nov. 27 to Dec. 3, 2017 against five teams with players from around the world.
Team USA played a total of six games against Team Finland, the Czech Republic, Team Sweden and the Open Jacks, a team with players from different countries. They took second in the finals, losing to Sweden 6-5.
“We all got to the championship and only had one day to practice [before playing Finland],” Thompson said. “They were a tough team and we weren’t expecting to win, but we wanted to come out working together, communicating and being positive.”
After their first game, which USA lost to Finland, Thompson said the team still accomplished their goals throughout the tournament as they beat the Open Jacks and the Czech Republic.
Ringette, which is like ice hockey, first started in Canada in 1963 and requires six players (including a goalie) on each team to pass around a ring instead of a puck with straight sticks instead of hockey sticks. The game is divided into two 15-to-20-minute halves, and the rink has five free pass circles, which are used for restarting the game after a violation.
In January 2016, Thompson also competed in the Ringette World Championship in Helsinki, Finland, where Team USA placed fourth. In 2017’s competition, not only did Thompson place second with her team, she was also awarded MVP after assisting on five goals.
Before she joined the Air Force in 2016, Thompson grew up playing hockey and after high school tried ringette, which is mostly participated in by females.
“I originally didn’t even know what ringette was,” Thompson said. “I played hockey with another girl that played ringette and she sent me a Facebook message and said, ‘Hey you should really try this out.’ … Ringette is so much faster than hockey. I said, ‘This is a challenge and I really want to challenge myself.’”
Separate from hockey, at top ringette competitions, a 30-second shot clock starts when a team takes possession of the ring, and if they don’t shoot on goal before 30 seconds, the ring goes to the other team.
While in Thule, Greenland, Thompson practices at the gym with a hockey stick and rings since there is no ice rink on base.
Ringette is not an Olympic event, but Thompson said she will continue to compete with Team USA while in the Air Force.
“It’s an amazing sport and it’s still growing, so to be able to be part of it and help grow the sport — it means a lot to me,” Thompson said. “I want to be able to say that I helped produce this sport and make it what it is. Our whole goal is to make it an Olympic sport.”
While on leave, Thompson said she was able to compete and also see her family.
“I wouldn’t have rather been on the beach,” she said. “I knocked out two birds with one stone. My parents got to see me compete and I got to spend time seeing people I haven’t seen in two years.”