Tom Larsen has seen everything in the world of football there is to see. From sixth grade Catholic Youth Organization football to a tryout with the Kansas City Chiefs, Larsen done it all.
“It’s been a great ride and I’ve met some great people a long the way,” he said.
After not playing in his freshman year, Larsen went on to become an all-city and all-state selection in his junior year at Bellarmine Prep and repeated it in his senior year on both the offensive and defensive line. He started to receive offers from northwest schools, plus Brown University in the Ivy League and Notre Dame.
While on his recruiting trip to South Bend, Larsen met legendary Irish coach Ara Parseghian and on a trip to Pacific Lutheran University, Frosty Westering made a big impression on Larsen.
Following four years at Washington State and a tryout with the Chiefs, Larsen would find his calling in life – teaching and coaching. The Gig Harbor school district would be his home for the next 15 years. After stints at three schools in Gig Harbor, Larsen would come home to the hill, Bellarmine.
“I taught math and coached track until 2002,” said Larsen.
That’s when head football coach Mike Baldassin offered Larsen an assistant’s job, but in 2003, Baldassin would step down and the job became Larsen’s – a dream come true. “Coming back to coach and teach at your alma mater, it doesn’t get any better than that.”
As Larsen began to put his assistant staff together, the first two hired were Dan Shaw on the defensive side and Brian Jensen on the offensive side. They are his current coordinators.
Playing Lion football and graduating in 1994, Shaw served in the military and came back to the Bellarmine football staff in the 2002 season.
“Like Tom, I felt great about coming back to Bellarmine and putting together a winning program with players such as Patrick McKillop, Bryce Comfort and Dan Durkin leading the way in our first few years,” said Shaw.
And Jensen had returned to the school which gave him the opportunity back in 1996 to coach football. “I couldn’t wait to rejoin Tom and get the ball rolling here on the hill.”
Progress was made through the middle of the decade with such players as Adam and Ben Hannula, Pat Names, and R.J. Wainhouse.
“We were competitive with a tough group of guys,” Jensen said.
Along came 2009 and the coaching staff knew they were sitting on something good. “There was god talent here and it began to take shape here midway through the 2010 season,” said Larsen. Sefo Liufau, Michael Rector, Joe Lovejoy, and Calvin Chandler would propel the Lions deep into the playoffs in 2010, with a memorable 26-21 win over the Bothell Cougars after falling behind 21-0 early in the first half. But it would all come to an end the next week at the Tacoma Dome, as the Lions lost to Ferris by a score of 14-10.
Last year brought more success, but also a rash of injuries, and the season would end in the semi’s to Skyview in Vancouver by a score of 41-17.
“It’s been great the last two years, and with many three-year starters coming back this year, we hope to go even farther,” said Larsen.
With a solid coaching staff continuing to lead the way, no one would be surprised if that happened.