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Lacrosse world mourns death of former Penn standout and longtime Denison coach Tommy Thomsen Jr., 80

Wednesday, 4th January 2012

Categories Boy's/Men's, College, Posted 1/4/12
From Press Releases and Staff Reports

Ferris “Tommy” Thomsen Jr., 80, former head lacrosse coach at Denison University for 25 years (1966-1990) and standout at the University of Pennsylvania died on Jan. 2, 2012.

Tommy Thomsen

One of the pioneers of the sport, Thomsen’s success at Denison contributed greatly to the spread of lacrosse into the Midwest. In 25 seasons as the head coach of the men’s lacrosse program at Denison he finished with a career record of 255-97 and a winning percentage of .724. In addition to his head lacrosse coaching duties, Thomsen was a faculty member in Denison’s Department of Physical Education while also serving as the head wrestling coach and assistant football coach for a number of years.

A 1954 graduate of Penn, Thomsen was a standout goalie on the Quaker lacrosse team and earned All-American honors. He earned three as a goaltender and was a team captain as a senior. Thomsen graduated from George School in Newtown, Penn.

Thomsen is a member of the U Penn Lacrosse Hall of Fame, the Denison University athletic Hall of Fame, and the Ohio Lacrosse Foundation Hall of Fame. The soccer and lacrosse field at Denison is named after Tommy and his friend and fellow coach, Ted Barclay: The Barclay/Thomsen Field.

(see obituary below)

Thomsen’s Big Red lacrosse teams captured 13 conference championships and at the time of his retirement in 1990, Thomsen was one of only three active college lacrosse coaches in the nation with more than 200 career victories. In 1968, Denison would rattle off 10-consecutive victories earning the college division national championship. One year later, Sports Illustrated featured Denison in an article entitled “Big Sticks of the Midwest.” Throughout the decade of the 1960s Denison lacrosse posted a record of 103-12-2.

Thomsen remained at Denison through the 70s and into the 80s where he ushered in the era of the NCAA Tournament which began as an eight-team playoff in 1982. Denison would make five appearances in the tournament under Thomsen, consistently ranking in the top-10 in the national rankings.

He was inducted into Denison’s Varsity D Association Athletic Hall of Fame and the Ohio Lacrosse Foundation Hall of Fame in 1994.

“My memories of Tommy consist of complete and utter admiration for an extraordinary man and coach,” commented former Denison coach and athletic director, Ted Barclay.

“Tommy’s mentoring skills are what stands out to me most, so many of his former players went on to do such great things. He, along with Rix Yard before him, laid the groundwork for what Denison lacrosse is today. He will be sadly missed.”

Following Thomsen’s retirement in 1991, current Denison head coach, Mike Caravana was named his successor. Of Thomsen’s passing Caravana shared these thoughts.

“It is a very sad day for all of us associated with Denison Lacrosse. He will certainly be missed, but as a man, coach, and leader he will never be forgotten by those he came in contact with.”

“Coach Thomsen was the quintessential Division III coach. He was more than just a lacrosse coach. He was a transformational leader and teacher who molded young men into adulthood. His guidance, direction and commitment to self improvement was unmatched during his time at Denison.”

A native of Baltimore, Md., Thomsen came to Denison from River Country Day School in Weston, Mass., where he coached football, wrestling and lacrosse for seven years.

* * *
Mr. Thomsen was born on Feb. 23, 1931, to Ferris and Helen Thomsen.

Mr. Thomsen married his high school sweetheart – Ann Haviland Sibley – in 1954 before teaching and coaching at St. Albans School, Washington, D.C., and the Rivers School in Weston, Mass. Tommy and family moved to Granville, Ohio, where he would teach and coach for 25 years at Denison University.

A long time director of Camp Deerwood, a family owned boys’ camp in Holderness, Mr. Thomsen loved working with kids of all ages.

He is survived by his wife, Ann; his four children, Peter, Debbie, Jeff and Laurie; and his nine grandchildren.

Mentor and teacher for many campers, students and athletes, Mr. Thomsen was an inspiration to all who knew him.

There will be a memorial service at the Center Harbor Congregational Church, 52 Main Street, Center Harbor, on Friday Jan. 6, at 11 a.m.

In Lieu of flowers, please send a donation to the Deerwood Foundation, c/o Henry Damon, 16 Dee Road, Lexington, MA, 02420

A Celebration of Tommy’s life will be held at Camp Deerwood in June, the date is to be determined.



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