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.
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.
“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. A 1954 graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, Thomsen was a standout on the Quaker lacrosse team. He earned three letters as a goaltender and was a team captain as a senior.
A funeral service will take place on Friday (Jan. 6) at 11 a.m. at the Congregational Church, 52 Main St., Center Harbor, N.H.
Any further details regarding Thomsen’s arrangements will be posted on denisonbigred.com.