Clarence Christenson, July 20, 1934-March 15, 2017
LSU Athletics Creative Services

Former LSU Hoops Assistant Passes Away

Kent Lowe (@LSUkent)
Kent Lowe (@LSUkent)
Communications Sr. Associate
BATON ROUGE – Clarence Christenson, who served as an assistant coach with both Dale Brown and the late Sue Gunter for close to two decades, passed away early Wednesday at the age of 82 after a lengthy illness, according to his daughter, Nancy Boudreaux.

A celebration of Coach Christenson's life will be held on April 1 at Trinity Episcopal Church in Morgan City, Louisiana. Visitation will be from 9-10 a.m. and the funeral service at 10. Twin City Funeral Home is handling the arrangements. Tentative plans call for his body to be cremated and returned to his hometown of Minot, North Dakota.

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 the Morgan City area.

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 in order 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 Coach Brown.

Following graduation he entered the coaching profession, serving some 14 years combined at Harvey and Minot High, 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 would end up with college scholarships, including at LSU.

“’Christy’ was a quiet gentle man with exceptional coaching skills with young people and a nurturing attitude,” Coach Brown said in remembering Christenson.

After serving two years as a full-time assistant coach at LSU for Brown after earning his master’s in education, he would later join 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.

Gunter once was quoted as saying that Christenson "was the best teacher of basketball funamentals she had ever seen."

One of those who was there for Coach Christenson’s last couple of 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,” Wright, still the longtime “Voice of the Lady Tigers” on the LSU Sports Radio Network, said from Waco where he was preparing for Saturday’s NCAA Tournament game. “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 Minor, North Dakota.

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