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MIAC Profiles Of Excellence: Chad Arlt, Gustavus Adolphus College

floated rightby Rich Mies, CSN Mapping the MIAC Columnist

All too often today, many “star” athletes feel the need to tout their greatness to the media and fans, making sure that everyone knows exactly how good he is. The antics of Cincinnati Bengals’ receiver Chad Johnson are an easy example of this type of conduct. Chad Arlt, arguably the greatest receiver in the history of Gustavus Adolphus College, can be found at the other end of the spectrum. Rather than bluster on about himself, Arlt lets his performance on the field and his talent do the talking.

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floated leftThe combination of talent and modesty are two attributes longtime Gustavus coach Jay Schoenebeck admires about Chad. “His statistics speak for themselves,” the coach stated. “That is what I love most about Chad. He lets his actions do the talking. In sports today, there seems to be more emphasis on self-promotion than ever before, but Chad is not that way. He is talented in so many ways and brings so much to the table, yet he never puts himself before the team or others. That is one of the reasons he is so respected by our team and staff and by all those that know him. You build successful programs around guys like Chad Arlt.”

Coach Schoenebeck continued, “People like him do not come by very often. He is an extremely talented athlete, one of the very best receivers I have had the pleasure to coach, and is arguably one of the best receivers in Division III football today. His physical and mental toughness are unparalleled. Chad’s reputation is one that emulates what our football program stands for: integrity, commitment and respect. When I think of Chad, I will always think of the example he has set, always doing the right thing, always putting forth his best effort in everything he does, and always treating others with great respect.”

Chad has rewritten the school record book at Gustavus. He eclipsed the school career records for receptions and receiving yardage by the end of his junior year. He has had more 100+ yard receiving games than any other receiver wearing the black and gold, and he owns most of the single season and single game records as well. Chad is one of the most proficient receivers in MIAC history. He is one of seven receivers in the conference to log 200 or more receptions and is the eighth man to reach the 3,000-yard plateau.

A considerable amount of talent is needed to achieve success of this magnitude. As Schoenebeck points out, Chad‘s accomplishments require more than just talent. “The personal sacrifice he makes on a daily basis with his diet, his training, and the time he spends studying the game of football, are all choices that he makes in his personal life that many are not willing to do,” the coach said. “His personal discipline is a standard by which we can all aspire, and the success of our program, now and in the future, will always have his stamp on it. He has been a tremendous role model for our younger players and he will leave his legacy here in many ways.”

Chad grew up in St. Michael, a town of 10,000 located 30 miles northwest of Minneapolis. He has two younger brothers. “Mike is a sophomore at Anoka Tech Community College,” Chad said. “He played football in high school and plays summer baseball. David is a senior in high school and runs cross country and track.”

Like his brothers, Chad attended St. Michael-Albertville High, where he played baseball and basketball as well as football. On the diamond, Chad played on the freshman team as a ninth grader and the JV the following year. He moved into the varsity starting lineup at third base his junior year and started at shortstop or third base as a senior, depending on the team’s need. The Knights were eliminated in the early rounds of Subsection play both seasons, but Chad was named to the all-conference team his senior year.

On the hard court, Chad played on the freshman team and JV prior to his junior year. That season, he started at guard and helped STMA reach the Section semifinals before they were eliminated. “We lost a couple of key players from that team, and didn’t do as well my senior year,” Chad recalled. “We lost in the first round that year.” Chad was named to the all-conference team in his junior and senior years.

floated rightChad spent his freshman year on the STMA frosh football team and the next season on the JV. He took over as a starter at wide receiver his junior year and was all-conference honorable mention. His senior year, he also saw playing time as a cornerback and helped the Knights to an eight-game winning streak. Their season ended in the Section championship game, where they lost to eventual state champion Totino Grace. Chad garnered all-conference honors.

He also began his record-setting ways, as he broke the school records for touchdown catches in a season and in a career as well as the career receiving yardage record.

Chad was recruited for football by a number of schools, mainly UM-Duluth, St. Cloud State, St. Olaf and Gustavus. “I wanted to go somewhere and play football but I still wanted to get a good education,” he said. “That was something my dad stressed. I pretty much narrowed it down to St. Olaf and Gustavus. I knew I wanted to go to a smaller, private school.”

When he visited Gustavus, he stayed with some of the football players. “I felt I could fit in with the guys on the team and enjoy the four years here,” he said. “I also felt I’d graduate with a good education.” During his visit, he attended a men’s basketball game on campus. “The atmosphere at that game was fantastic,” he stated, and that helped tilt his decision to GAC.

He saw limited playing time his freshman year, but did haul in five passes for 147 yards as well as scoring his first collegiate touchdown. The Gusties finished the year 3-5 and in sixth place. They were 4-6 overall.

Chad moved into the starting lineup for his sophomore year, and promptly posted the fourth-most prolific season in school history. He caught 56 passes for 765 yards, including six touchdowns as Gustavus posted a 4-4 record in league play and went 6-4 overall. Chad ranked fourth in the MIAC in receptions and catches per game. He was sixth in the league in receiving yardage and yards per game.

As good as that season was Chad was merely warming up. Last fall, he opened the season with a 16-reception game against Willamette, breaking the school record for catches in a game. He finished the season with seven games of more than 100 yards receiving, another school record. He hauled in 100 passes on the year, the best season in school history. Against Augsburg, Chad compiled 252 yards in receptions, yet another school single-game record. He ended the year with 1,294 yards, shattering the school standard. That gave him career totals of 2,206 yards on 175 receptions, eclipsing the school record in both categories with a season to go.

For the season, Chad ranked third in the NCAA Division III in receptions (10.0 per game) and fourth in receiving yards per game (129.4). He was second in the MIAC in receptions per game and third in receiving yards per game and was named to the All-MIAC First Team. Gustavus posted a 3-5 record, taking fifth in the conference; overall, they were 5-5.

Before the season, Coach Schoenebeck announced he would be retiring after the season. “It’s exciting to be part of it,” Chad stated. “It’s been emotional, too. He is so close to his players and means so much to the guys. He has done so much for the players, especially our senior class. We will do whatever we can for him, because he has always been there, doing whatever he can for us. We want him to go out a winner.”

Chad was named a preseason All-American by Consensus Draft Services. This fall, he has caught 46 passes for 732 yards and is in the top four in the MIAC in both categories. The Gusties are 3-2, tied for third, one game off the pace. Overall, they are 5-2.

Prior to his junior season, Chad was elected a team captain in a vote by his peers. To Schoenebeck, that speaks volumes about Chad’s character. “One example of the respect our team has for Chad is being voted by his teammates as a captain as a junior,” the coach stated. “We have only had seven players in our 100-plus year history elected as a captain in their junior year and senior year. Chad is a teammate, student-athlete, a player that I believe everyone without question feels they can count on day in and day out. When you have guys like that on your team, you know success is going to happen because they know no other way.”

Off the field, Chad has played a role in the football team’s participation in the Relay for Life. “It was first held here my sophomore year, and the football team has been in it every year,” said Chad. “The team also volunteered and helped with cleanup after a tornado hit Cleveland, MN, a small town near here.”

Chad is a Business Management major with a 3.20 GPA. He will graduate this spring. He is weighing several career options, including public accounting, corporate accounting and corporate management.

Being at Gustavus has been a great experience for Chad. “It has been great because of the experiences I have, with classes and the people here,” he said. “Gustavus is filled with great people. I wouldn’t trade my experiences here for anything.”

While his time at Gustavus has had a profound impact on Chad, his being there also has had an impact on those around him. “An excellent student, a great player, but more importantly, Chad is an outstanding young man of great character,” Coach Schoenebeck stated.

“In time all of his accomplishments and records on the field will fade. But his character, his integrity, his toughness, his commitment to excellence, those are the things that will stand the test of time. Those are the things that I will always remember when I think of Chad Arlt. I will always be thankful for the opportunity to have been a part of his experience here at Gustavus, and thankful for his unselfish effort and leadership on behalf of Gustavus and our football program. He will be dearly missed.”

[Photos are used courtesy of the Gustavus Adolphus College Sports Information Office.]

The Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (MIAC) is widely respected as one of the premier conferences in nearly every sport competed in Division III. Year after year, the MIAC produces teams and individual student-athletes who excel in their given sport. At the same time, the MIAC schools maintain a reputation of commitment to academic excellence. This article is one in a series of spotlights on some of the young men and women who represent the league’s commitment to excellence, both in the classroom and athletics during the 2008-09 academic year.

This feature will be included in the “Profiles of Excellence 2008-2009″ book which will be available for order at RDM Publishing. It will feature profiles of student-athletes from the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, written by CSN’s “Mapping the MIAC” columnist Rich Mies.