Clarence Christenson passes away March 15
Clarence Christenson, who served as an assistant coach with Dale Brown and the late Sue Gunter for close to two decades, passed away early March 15 at age 82 after a lengthy illness, according to his daughter, Nancy Boudreaux.
A celebration of Coach Christenson's life will be held Saturday at Trinity Episcopal Church in Morgan City. Visitation will be from 9-10 a.m., and the funeral service at 10. Twin City Funeral Home in Morgan City is handling arrangements.
Christenson had been living in the Morgan City area where his daughter lives but had been spending a lot of time at his camp in Stephenville, north of Morgan City.
Christenson, born on July 20, 1934, was a father of six who came to LSU as a 38-year-old willing to serve as a graduate assistant to further his education and career. Better known as “Christy” by his friends, Christenson and his wife, Yvonne, brought their family to Baton Rouge from Dale Brown’s hometown of Minot, North Dakota.
Brown and Christenson grew up together and were teammates and classmates at Minot State College. Christenson graduated with a business and physical education major in 1959, two years after Brown.
Following graduation, Christenson entered the coaching profession, serving 14 years combined at Harvey and Minot High and earning 837 wins in basketball and baseball. He was associated with seven state championships.
Brown brought Christenson to Baton Rouge in 1973 to not only work with the varsity and junior varsity units at LSU, but in true Brown fashion, he had a perfect job for the outgoing Christenson: help build basketball interest in the State of Louisiana for LSU. He organized two groups: the Tigers Safari Basketball Club, which could be equated to today’s Mike’s Kids Club at LSU, and the one he has always been associated most notably with – The Tiger Tykes and Tots.
The Tykes were a mini-Globetrotter type unit that displayed basketball ball handling skills and drills and delighted audiences all over. Many of those youngsters ended up with college scholarships, including at LSU.
“’Christy’ was a quiet gentle man with exceptional coaching skills with young people and a nurturing attitude,” Brown said.
After serving two years as a full-time assistant coach at LSU for Brown after earning his master’s degree in education, Christenson later joined the LSU women’s staff of then-coach Barbara Swanner in 1979. He continued to serve until 1992, with the majority of those years with Gunter, the legendary Hall of Fame coach. Christenson became known in women’s basketball as a noted recruiter, helping to bring in many high school All-Americans, including among others Joyce Walker and Alisha Jones.
Boudreaux said Walker is scheduled to deliver the eulogy at Christenson’s funeral.
Gunter once said Christenson "was the best teacher of basketball fundamentals she had ever seen."
One of those who was there for Christenson’s last years as a women’s assistant was a young student broadcaster calling Lady Tiger games on the campus radio station, Patrick Wright.
“Coach Christy was a gem of a human being,” said Wright, still the longtime “Voice of the Lady Tigers” on the LSU Sports Radio Network. “A true throwback with ‘old-school’ values. He and Coach Gunter made a great pair when they were on the women’s staff together. He loved working at LSU, and I’m glad I had the opportunity to get to know him.”
A scholarship fund in his name "Coach Christy Christenson" is set up with Minot High School in Minot, North Dakota.