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The Joachim journey

Correction: A previous version of this story misconstrued that the Joachim brothers attended the University of Arkansas. They previously attended Lyon College which is in Arkansas.

A basketball player holds the ball while a defender approaches him.
Dakoda Joachim prepares for a drive to the basket. Photo: Jaclyn Duske

For any athlete, there is almost no feeling greater than having the privilege to play alongside one of your siblings. This is a dream that Don and Dakoda Joachim have been able to live out. From playing basketball together at Joliet Central High School, to being recruited to play at Arkansas, to now coming back home and playing together at the University of St. Francis, these two brothers have had quite an incredible journey together. 

The journey of Don and Dakoda began all the way back when they were kids. These two brothers may love each other to death, but their rivalry as siblings is about as fierce as it gets. 

“Our rivalry was like we were sweating, tears coming out, blood coming out… I would definitely say it was intense,” Don said. 

But it was nothing but love between Don and Dakoda. Their heated rivalry that they had while they were growing up only brought the best out of each other. For these two, practicing together has always been the most productive way to go. 

“His weaknesses are my strengths and my strengths are his weaknesses,” Don said about his brother. 

All of the basketball that Don and Dakoda played in the driveway as kids finally paid off when they had their most memorable moment playing for Joliet Central. The date was Mar. 6, 2018 and the Steelmen were taking on the Raiders of Bolingbrook in an IHSA sectional semi-final matchup. Although Joliet Central fell 94-91, the Steelmen forced the game to a second overtime against one of the best teams in the state.

“We both had a great game. The coach actually had us in the game. My brother was a sophomore, so he was playing but he wasn’t starting, but in that game he really went off,” Don said about the sectional matchup. “We were playing in front of Division I schools like Yale [and] Butler… It was definitely a good memory.”

Even to this day, Don and Dakoda say that this is their greatest memory that they have across all of their time playing basketball together, and understandably so. The Bolingbrook team that they faced had a multitude of future Division I players including Tyler Cochran of the University of Toledo and Joseph Yesufu who played for the University of Kansas during their NCAA National Championship run in 2022. 

The brothers both know there are going to be many more amazing memories like this to come in the future throughout their basketball careers. 

It was opportunities like their sectional game that allowed them to be recruited to Lyon College in Arkansas to continue their basketball journey. However, going to play in Arkansas did not go the way that the two brothers thought it would. The very spiritual Don and Dakoda claimed that they received many signs from God that Arkansas was not the place for them. 

“God put it on our hearts that Arkansas wasn’t the place to be,” Dakoda said about their experience. “We felt it in our heart that we weren’t supposed to be there.”

After moving to Arkansas together and preparing to play college basketball on the grandest stage, Don and Dakoda realized through their faith that Lyon College was not the right fit for them. 

The two brothers were met with ridicule when they decided that Arkansas was not the right fit. Many of their friends and family believed they would not get the chance to go back to school and play basketball. But then Dakoda decided to give Coach Ryan Marks of the University of St. Francis a call.

“When we knew that we weren’t supposed to be there, God showed us it was not the place he called us to be,” Dakoda said about his and Don’s final weeks in Arkansas. “I called Coach Marks and asked him if he still had any spots left on the team for me and my brother.”

After that, the rest is history. Don and Dakoda returned home and had a week to enroll at the University of St. Francis. The next thing they knew, they were both Fighting Saints. 

The journey for the Joachim brothers has been anything but ordinary, but no dream ever is. From bleeding and sweating together while playing in the driveway as kids to bleeding and sweating on Pat Quigley Court as adults, the Joachim’s have gone full circle.

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