[Editors Note: Be sure to check out a video interview with Joe at the bottom of the article]
Whenever you ask a football teammate about the experience of playing alongside Joe Dykema ’14, there is a pause and a laugh usually followed by the words, “I don’t know if I can tell you about that.”
In his four years at Macalester, the senior defensive back has earned a reputation for his ridiculousness, but also his work ethic and dedication. “Joe just brings a combination of intensity, intelligence and fun that you don’t really see with many other people,” said teammate Jole Miller ’15.
Dykema, an Economics major, was President of the Macalester Investment Group, participated in Macathon, was twice named Defensive MVP of the football team and was elected to the squad’s leadership council. “[He is] everything you’d ever want, in every way, in terms of his leadership outside football, his leadership in the classroom, across campus, how he carries himself, his work ethic, everything he does,” said Macalester Head Football Coach Tony Jennison.
Balancing the events on the field, in the classroom and just life in general wasn’t always easy, but it has brought valuable lessons. “First semester junior year I had work study, football and two internships on top of classes,” Dykema said. “It wasn’t great, but at the end of the day it teaches you balance, and in interviews when they ask you about your best qualities I can say I’m good at managing a variety of activities at once and striving to do them all well.”
After graduating in May, Dykema will head to New York City where a job at the consulting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers awaits him. After interning at the firm last summer, he was offered the job before even returning to Macalester last August. As a risk consultant, Dykema will help companies and individuals assess problems and propose solutions. “Growing up in Roseville I never thought I would be able to get a job like this,” Dykema said. “Nobody in my family has ever had a job like this. I’m very lucky and very excited to be doing this.”
Auburn Jimenez ’14 has been Dykema’s roommate for the past three years. He remembers the moment Dykema finally accepted the job offer “because contrary to the norm, he was actually pretty excited at that moment. It’s always sweet to see someone get a job straight out of college, especially at a pretty good company on Wall Street.”
“When I was touring here the first time my mom was asking the coaches their policy on academic probation and such,” Dykema said. “I was embarrassed because I wasn’t a great student in high school, but for whatever reason the academics here have been great.”
He credits great relationships with professors and classmates for his positive experience studying economics.
Dykema’s work ethic and accomplishments have not gone unnoticed. Last week, he was recognized with the Mike McEwen Award, an honor for a student-athlete majoring in Economics who has shown excellence in all disciplines. The award is given in memorial of McEwen ’77, an economics major and guard on the basketball team.
“We’ve nominated him for several awards,” Jennison said. “He is certainly worthy, because he does great things in all aspects of his life.”
The coaching staff of the Macalester Football team has also nominated Dykema for several awards through the National Football Foundation. The organization named him Scholar-Athlete of the Day on Jan. 18 for his exemplary leadership and citizenship in addition to academics and athletics.
On the field, Dykema was known for his physical and focused style. “There were a number of games where he would just drill someone, and kind of make a statement and it would get the team fired up, both offensively and defensively,” Jennison said. “He was our physical leader, setting the tone, setting the tempo.”
One of those games came against Hamline during Dykema’s sophomore season. The coaching staff credited him with a key and forceful tackle that sparked the Scots to victory, a win that brought home the Paint Bucket Trophy for the first time in a long while.
He has started at safety since his sophomore season, when he earned Defensive MVP honors after leading the team in tackles while picking up three interceptions, including one returned for a touchdown. Dykema was hit with several injuries over the next two seasons, though he was again honored as Defensive MVP after his senior campaign for his leadership. “I will miss playing football more than I thought I would,” he said. “It’s been a great time. The people, my teammates are probably the best part of it.”
Coaches and teammates alike admire his ability to turn on and off his intensity. “He’s a pretty serious guy on the field, but off the field he’s very ridiculous and fun-loving,” Jimenez said.
When Miller visited Macalester as a prospective student, Dykema hosted him. The two had an entertaining adventure getting lost in the Twin Cities trying to find places that didn’t exist, and the laughs haven’t stopped as the two played alongside each other in the defensive backfield the past three seasons. “Coming in as a freshman, Joe really helped me get acclimated to the team,” Miller said. “We’ve had a lot of fun together, making jokes, having a good time on the field.”
Additionally, Dykema is known for his distinctive walk. Jimenez describes him as a 22-year-old in a 50-year-old’s body: “He’s missing his patellas in both knees and his ankles have been screwed up for so long that when he walks all his joints crack and pop.”
Also notable are his second degree brown belt in karate and enjoyment of “watching the first half of sporting events and then imagining what happens during the rest of it.”
“Probably the thing I’ll miss most are the random segments throughout the day when he’ll bring out that light-hearted sense of humor that you don’t get all the time but that could only come from him,” Jimenez said.
For Coach Jennison and the rest of the staff, Dykema has been a dedicated and valuable player: “I mean he’s just the athlete you want, hard working, great attitude, and great person to people within our program but also to people in this community.”
As for a favorite memory from Miller: “I don’t know if I can find one that’s appropriate. In a good way.”