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Lacrosse alumni celebrate Thomsen's HOF induction

More than 40 Denison lacrosse alumni gathered to celebrate Tommy Thomsen's induction to the IMLCA Hall of Fame  |  Photo by Melissa Riehl
More than 40 Denison lacrosse alumni gathered to celebrate Tommy Thomsen's induction to the IMLCA Hall of Fame | Photo by Melissa Riehl

BALTIMORE--  On Friday, December 7, 2018, Denison's Ferris "Tommy" Thomsen was inducted into the Intercollegiate Men's Lacrosse Coaches Association Hall of Fame at a reception held at the Baltimore Waterfront Marriott and Denison University made its presence known.  Over 40 of Thomsen's former players joined current Denison head coach Mike Caravana and the Thomsen family to celebrate this momentous occasion.

"It was a wonderful night celebrating a man who was so impactful to all of us," said Tom Riehl '85.  "It reminded me how fortunate we were to have a head coach like Tommy, who made playing lacrosse so much fun."

Thomsen was one of four inductees in this year's class and was joined by Gene Corrigan (Washington and Lee, University of Virginia), Mort LaPointe (Bowdoin), and Carl Runk (Towson).

"It was a great night celebrating a great man who coached all of us on and off the field," said Louis Merryman '83.

Dr. Gus Mazzocca '86 echoed the sentiments.

"It was wonderful reconnecting with everyone again and honoring a great man."

Thomsen coached the Denison Big Red from 1966-1990 (25 seasons) and elevated the Big Red into not only one of the top teams in the Midwest but a national power who was frequently ranked in the top-10 of the college rankings. 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 made five appearances in the tournament under Thomsen.

He was inducted into Denison's Varsity Association Athletic Hall of Fame and the Ohio Lacrosse Foundation Hall of Fame in 1994.  He passed away on January 2, 2012, at the age of 80.

Thomsen began his coaching career at River Country Day School in Massachusetts after graduating from the University of Pennsylvania in 1954.  After seven years at River Country Day, Thomsen took over at Denison where he posted a record of 255-97 which ranks him 12th in career winning percentage in Division III.

At the end of the induction, 1978 Denison graduate John Fisher summarized the event's proceedings.

"It was a great evening that would have very much humbled Tommy. The legacy he left, among other things, has become the brotherhood that we all know as Denison Men's Lacrosse.  This was made evident leading up to the event itself. Jeff Thomsen and Ted Haynie did a wonderful job capturing the essence of the man, the character, the coach, the mentor and the friend we all knew. Special thanks to Coach Mike (Caravana) who proudly continues to carry the torch and keeping the traditions of Denison Men's Lacrosse alive and as strong as ever."

The Thomsen Family  |  Photo by Melissa Riehl