Barry McNamara  |  Published April 16, 2024

He’s a Hall of Famer

Administrator, coach, instructor Craig Dahlquist, a 1978 Monmouth graduate, inducted by Bradley University.

MONMOUTH, Ill. – With 9,000 fans watching the ceremony in Carver Arena, and with 7-foot-1 Patrick O’Bryant – a lottery pick in the 2006 NBA draft – standing nearby, 1978 Monmouth College graduate Craig Dahlquist wasn’t quite sure he belonged in the company he was keeping.

CRAIG DAHLQUIST: The 1978 graduate was on campus April 18 to volunteer with the eighth annual Scots Day of Giving. CRAIG DAHLQUIST: The 1978 graduate was on campus April 18 to volunteer with the eighth annual Scots Day of Giving.The self-described “mediocre track athlete who never figured out I was bad” was having a momentary imposter syndrome experience, but O’Bryant quickly fixed it.

“I said to Patrick, ‘What’s wrong with this picture?’” said Dahlquist of the Bradley University Hall of Fame ceremony, which was held at halftime of the Braves’ Feb. 24 home basketball game against Illinois State University. “Patrick told me, ‘You absolutely deserve to be here.’”

A Hall of Fame career

While a few members of the induction class of 2024 – which included Chicago Cubs outfielder Mike Tauchman – starred at Bradley before playing professionally, Dahlquist wasn’t honored for times he ran as an undergrad or points he scored. Rather, it was for his four decades as a member of Bradley’s athletics staff, giving him the longest tenure of any current staff member and one of the longest in the history of the department.

“I said to Patrick, ‘What’s wrong with this picture?’ Patrick told me, ‘You absolutely deserve to be here.’” – Craig Dahlquist

His service to Bradley has continued beyond his official retirement in 2022, when he stepped down from his post as senior associate athletic director for finance and administration. He’s now in his second year as a volunteer assistant for the Braves’ cross country and track programs, returning to the team he served as head coach from 1986-96. Dahlquist has also been a health and movement science instructor and worked as the athletics business manager and assistant ticket manager. A certified USA Track & Field official, he served as a volunteer official during the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta.

“When you work in higher education, you’re not making a Caterpillar-type salary,” he said. “You really have to love the work, and I did. The relationships are what have really impacted me and been important. And being able to help my kids get educational opportunities (through tuition exchange), I know they all appreciate it.”

HOME OF THE BRAVES: Dahlquist speaks at a Bradley University function. HOME OF THE BRAVES: Dahlquist speaks at a Bradley University function.Asked to name some “wins” from his 40 years at Bradley, Dahlquist replied, “Most recently, helping to re-establish the track and field program. Being a catalyst to make that happen was rewarding. (Former athletic director) Dr. Michael Cross said, ‘We’re going to do this again.’ That was a big one.”

Dahlquist also pointed to the success of other Bradley teams, not the least of which being the men’s soccer teams from 2005-07. The ’07 squad reached the NCAA Elite Eight, and the three squads were collectively inducted into the Hall of Fame at the same ceremony as Dahlquist, whose late son Danny was on the team.

“Me getting inducted was important to dozens and dozens of people and to my family,” said Dahlquist, whose wife, Tricia, has been on the faculty for 35 years and is chair of the English department. “Over the years, there have been some super incredible people to work with, including people who would step in for me if I had to be away and who made me look good.”

“It was really great to look out at the crowd during that ceremony and see the faces of people like that who had stayed in their seats to watch, rather than go out and get a hot dog. It’s humbling.”  – Craig Dahlquist

Those people included a pair of staff members who “worked every single basketball game with me selling 50-50 raffle tickets,” said Dahlquist. “Through all those years, they never missed a game. And there were all the folks in the Braves Club who would tell you what a good job you were doing. It was really great to look out at the crowd during that ceremony and see the faces of people like that who had stayed in their seats to watch, rather than go out and get a hot dog. It’s humbling. I’ll end this all by saying that working 38 years in one place – that’s something you don’t see that much anymore, so I’m proud of that.”

A’s and the alphabet

Before Dahlquist had a Bradley story, he had a Monmouth story, which includes an interesting introduction.

BEST MEN: Dahlquist (right) and Joe Welty were roommates for all four years of college, teammates on the track and cross co... BEST MEN: Dahlquist (right) and Joe Welty were roommates for all four years of college, teammates on the track and cross country teams, and the best man in each other's wedding.“My sister was at Millikin,” he said. “My thought was, ‘I’m not going to go there.’ So in the college guidebook, I literally turned the page from Millikin, and what’s next alphabetically? Monmouth. I applied, but I never visited. I came from a single-parent family, so I got a great financial aid package. My roommate was Joe Welty ’78, and we stayed together for all four years. We were the best man in each other’s weddings.”

Welty went on to earn his medical degree from the University of Illinois and start a family practice. Not surprisingly, the future doctor got good grades at Monmouth.

“The whole time Joe was here, he only got three grades that weren’t an ‘A,’” said Dahlquist. “I only got three A’s, so I always tell Joe that I got his three A’s. That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.”

(Welty also topped Dahlquist in another area, sending his three sons to Monmouth. Dahlquist laments being 0-for-7 with his kids in that department. His youngest will be a freshman at Illinois Wesleyan University this fall.)

Those lackluster grades aside, Dahlquist embarked on the early stages of his hall of fame path at Monmouth.

“This place matured me. It made me grow,” said Dahlquist, who joined the Zeta Beta Tau fraternity. “I never thought of leaving. I couldn’t wait to come back every summer,” from his home in suburban Rolling Meadows.

“This place matured me. It made me grow. I never thought of leaving. I couldn’t wait to come back every summer.” – Craig Dahlquist

That enthusiasm for Monmouth even shaped his academic focus.

“When I first came, my focus was on physics because I was thinking about getting into engineering,” he said. “But I found out it would be a 3-2 program. I’d have to leave, and I didn’t want to do that, so I shifted to business with an accounting focus and had a lot of classes with Homer Shoemaker.”

Fast forward to the mid-2010s. Dahlquist was firmly established at Bradley, but he also felt a little tug from his alma mater 60 miles to the west, leading to a pair of five-year terms on the Alumni Board.

“I started getting more involved with Monmouth,” he said in April. “These last 10 years have been so rewarding. Coming back here today for my last meeting, it feels like I’m graduating again.”

Dahlquist returned the next week, as well, assisting throughout the annual Scots Day of Giving.

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