She is a three-time NCAA shot put champion from the University of Nebraska in the late 1990s. In the early 1990s, Thompson won several high school shot put state titles. In 2000, she placed second at the USA Indoor shot put competition.
Just before she was due to go to the 2000 USA Olympics Trials (not the Olympics), Tressa tested positive for cocaine and methamphetamine.
Her addictions became the focus of an episode of the A&E television series Intervention. Following the show Tressa was sent to a 90-day intensive in-patient therapy known as "Hope By The Sea." She also reportedly went from the treatment facility to a sober living facility to continue her sobriety. According to the show, Tressa has been sober since March 2010, having had several relapses since the initial show about her addiction was filmed in 2007.