Whether his role was educator, coach, colleague or friend, Tom Andreasen always strived to do the best job possible.
Andreasen has died at age 71 after a long fight with cancer, leaving a legacy that extends far beyond state high school championship basketball teams he coached at Virginia City and Carson.
Current Carson boys basketball coach Carlos Mendeguia said it best when commenting on Andreasen: “It’s a sad day. He was a man of high character and integrity. He was a great ambassador for basketball in Northern Nevada. It’s a huge loss for basketball fans, coaches and players. Any time you needed help, he was right there for you.”
Bob Rudnick had the distinction of starting under Andreasen for six seasons, from elementary school through JV and varsity ball in Virginia City, capped by the Muckers’ 1972 Class A state championship season. Rudnick described Andreasen as the “ultimate competitor” while also being a “card carrying, certified gentleman.” “Coach was our John Wooden at Virginia City as far as his philosophies and doing everything the right way,” Rudnick said of Andreasen. “He gave us a handbook on how we were expected to do things to be successful. And it was not just about X’s and O’s; it was about hard work, dedication, having confidence ... if you had those qualities, you were going to win. Those are all things I carried through life.”
Rudnick, who retired after a long career with the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office, still has that handbook and remembers one line in particular.
“One of the things he had written,” Rudnick added, “‘To avoid being a poor loser, win.’”
Andreasen graduated from Storey County High School in 1962. At Virginia City, Andreasen played all four years on the varsity boys basketball team, helping the Muckers win the state title in 1959 and 1962. He went on to play four basketball seasons at the University of Nevada, graduating in 1966. Andreasen’s 34 rebounds against Whittell in 1962 still ranks No. 3 all-time for a single game in the NIAA state record book.
“One of the things coach always emphasized was to box out,” Rudnick said about rebounding . “He used to say, the team that wins this game will be the team that gets the most loose balls.”
According to the NIAA record book, he has 212 career wins at Virginia City (1969-1972) and Carson (1972-1982 and 1998-2000). He was inducted into the NIAA Hall of Fame in 2002.
Ron McNutt, who coached Carson to two state titles in baseball, came to the school at about the same time as Andreasen and followed Andreasen as the school’s athletic director. McNutt was the JV coach when Carson won the state title and sat on the bench when the Senators beat Clark 68-67 to win the state large schools title.
“He was a good mentor for me,” McNutt said. “I was just real close to him and his family. He was just an outstanding individual. He meant a lot to a lot of kids.”
Mike Longero was the leading scorer for Carson’s 1975 team, who went on to play for the University of Nevada. Longero later became an educator at Carson High and was an assistant coach during Andreasen’s second short stint as the boys basketball coach.
Longero was there on the ground floor when Andreasen came to Carson to make the Senators a power after doing the same at Virginia City.
After winning a state title at Virginia City in 1972, Andreasen came to Carson the next season during Longero’s sophomore year. Andreasen and Longero teamed to lead the Senators to their first 3A state tournament appearance in 1973, three straight state tournament berths and the 1975 state title.
“We were really happy when he took the job,” Longero said. “He would always build you up, he would never tear you down. He didn’t really have a bad thing to say about people.”
Longero said he was honored to play for Andreasen, then to be his colleague and to know his family, including Sharon and their three children, Bob, Shari and Amber.
“He’s got just a wonderful family,” Longero said.
McNutt’s wife, Terrie, also worked closely with Andreasen, working as his administrative assistant for 15 years while Andreasen served as Carson’s athletic director.
“He was passionate about athletics,” Terrie McNutt said. “He was passionate about equality for athletics. I loved working for him. It was just a pleasure working for him. He was a very kind man.”
Congressman Mark Amodei played for Carson’s state championship team. Amodei said there were no gray areas with Andreasen.
“I mean that as a compliment,” Amodei said, adding about Andreasen’s style, “‘This is what’s expected of you. This is what you’re supposed to do.’ It really helped get me ready for the things that come into your life. He’s one of those guys I’m profoundly grateful to.”
Nevada Appeal sports writer Darrell Moody contributed to this story.