Tom Larsen, the beloved head coach of the Bellarmine Lions football team for the past 12 seasons, is stepping off the gridiron.
To the casual or the intense football fan, Bellarmine is losing an incredibly successful coach. Larsen had a career win/loss record of 90-44. But to those in the community who really know him, he will be missed for much more than a statistic.
Athletic Director Ed Ploof said “He’s the winningest football coach in Bellarmine history, but that’s not his legacy. His legacy is what he has meant to our young men, and what he’s taught them about football, life and living out one’s faith in action.”
For a lot of people, that’s what has set Larsen apart over the years: his commitment to growing his players in their faith.
When asked about the importance of faith in his coaching philosophy, Larsen said, “I wouldn’t do it if I couldn’t share my faith. In the 35 years I have coached – (football, basketball, soccer and track) my intention is to have my athletes open up to the reality that Our Awesome God has blessed them with gifts that can be used to glorify him, improve fellow teammates and build a self-confidence that builds the world around them.”
It’s clear that Larsen’s players have taken that message to heart over the years. When asked for one of his favorite memories as a coach, Larsen said, “I recall the time when Sefo (Liufau) carried West O’Brien (B’13) to the bus following the Skyline loss. That is a picture of Jesus in the world for me.”
Larsen’s example of how to live on campus makes him a role model for many of his players. Junior Blake Wilcoxen said, “He’s been a really good role model. Not only for me but for the rest of the team as well.”
Senior Daniel Gill echoed Wilcoxen’s sentiment, “He cares about us giving our best, whether it’s on the field, in the classroom or at home in our relationships with our family members. He teaches that Lion Pride Football is about making responsible, caring young men and not about the scoreboard.”
Gill continued, “Coach Larsen is so special to me because he is so much more than a coach; he is a friend, teacher, man of God and part of the family. He has changed my life and the lives of so many who have come through the program.”
As his players and colleagues attest, Larsen will be missed. He exemplifies everything Bellarmine stands for as an institution. He puts God first in everything he does and uses his example as his primary method of teaching. He won’t be on the football field anymore, but his uplifting presence will still be found in the halls of Snyder or on the trails of the Pacific Northwest.
When asked how he plans on spending his free time, Larsen joked, “Get my grades into Schoolmaster in a more timely fashion.” He adds, “Actually, I have spent 34 autumns on the gridiron either as a coach or player. I love the fall, and will spend more time out hiking with my wife to enjoy our beautiful PNW.”
While Larsen enjoys more time with his family, the fate of the football programs remains in strong and capable hands. Offensive Coordinator Brian Jensen will take over as the head coach.
This senior news writer expresses his gratitude. “On behalf of the Lion staff, thank you, Coach Larsen, for your unforgettable contributions to our sports programs up on the hill. It’s people like you that make Bellarmine what it is, and, for that, we are eternally grateful.”