DENNY ALMQUIST, whose nickname is Swede, taught for 44 years and coached for 39 years at the high school level in northern and southern Idaho as well as Montana. He was one of nine children born to Harry and Marge Amlquist
Swede graduated from Mullan High in 1960 where he won the school’s Outstanding Athlete Award as a senior. He walked on as a freshman on the University of Idaho football team and started all three freshmen games (at the time, freshmen could not participate at the varsity level). He earned a varsity letter as a sophomore playing offensive guard and defensive tackle, playing in two-third of each game.
He started his final two seasons at UI on the offensive and defensive lines under coach Dee Andros. In his junior year, he was the only UI player to earn All-Coast honors. As a senior, he earned lineman of the week honors in UI’s 14-12 upset win over Arizona. He was a Look Magazine honorable mention All-American selection. The team went 5-4 for its first winning record since 1938.
Following his UI career, Almquist was selected in the 11th round of the NFL draft by San Francisco, but was later released. He was then picked up by Saskatchewan in the middle of the CFL season where he played for a year. He then returned to UI to finish his education so he could get his credentials to teach and coach.
Almquist started his coaching career as an assistant coach in football, basketball and golf in 1966 at Wallace High, and then became assistant football and track coach at Twin Falls High. In 1975, he became head coach for the Bruins and spent three years there. He was named the A-1 Football Coach of the Year for District 4 in 1971.
Almquist then moved to Missoula and was a 7-8th grade basketball coach for two seasons at Hellgate Elementary before he became head football coach at Big Sky High School, which opened that year in 1980. He was head coach for three season and was assistant girls’ track coach for 30 years in the throwing events where he had numerous conference and state champions. He retired in 2010.
Among his lifetime honors, Almquist was named by the Shoshone News Press as one of the Silver Valley’s Legend of Sports.
Almquist and his wife Mary Gay, have been married for 48 years and they have two children, Guy (Heather) and Katie (Nate Laslovich), and eight grandchildren. Coaching and teaching runs in the family as between Almquist, his wife, his children and their spouses, five of the six have or are in the education field and three have been head coaches at the high school level.
Among Almquist’s many hobbies are golf, racquetball, hunting, fishing, reloading, target shooting, horseback riding in the mountains, and following his children and grandchildren.