If something needs to be done at the Dakota State Fieldhouse, there is always one person who can be counted on—Carla Sudenga. She has been working at Dakota State University for the last 36 years and currently holds the position of Senior Secretary at the Fieldhouse. This last week, she was recently awarded the Terry Ryan Distinguished Service Award at a home basketball game. This isn’t the first time Carla has won the award—in fact, it’s her third. However, I think it’s safe to say that an infinite number of awards would not be enough to thank Carla Sudenga for all that she has done for Dakota State University athletics.
Carla began working at Dakota State in 1983 in the Registrar’s office but quickly moved to athletics. She departed in 1987 for a short period of time but returned the following year. In 2003 she helped in the business office, but since then has remained in the athletics department.
To put things in perspective, when Carla first began working at Dakota State, a gallon of gas didn’t even cost $1.25 and Ronald Reagan was the President. That was a long time ago, but as the times have changed so has Dakota State and Carla has had a front seat for it all. Through all this time, Carla has seen DSU go through several different athletic conferences including the SDIC, Dak 10, AIAA, and NSAA. She has also seen 65 different athletic coaches come and go from Dakota State, and she’s worked with 11 different athletic directors. The name of the school has even changed from Dakota State College to Dakota State University, and recently the school colors have even changed. While DSU has changed around her, Carla’s commitment and dedication have always stayed the same. In 1983 Dakota State had only about 250 student-athletes. They now have over 400 student-athletes. This has kept Carla busy, but she’s loved seeing Dakota State grow and improve.
However, Carla didn’t just watch this happen. She’s been a key part in this growing success at Dakota State. Carla has helped approve over 5,000 student-athletes for eligibility. That means she’s impacted the lives of over 5,000 kids, and these kids aren’t just a number to her. She said, “The school is small enough to get to know the athletes.” That’s why Carla loves her job. She said, “I do what I do because I love what I do.” Carla is one of the hardest working people in the Fieldhouse. She’s dedicated to helping anyone who needs assistance. She goes above and beyond what is asked of her.
Carla calls herself the “gopher person” because she does it all. She helps pay bills, make contracts, organize travel plans, aids with eligibility, and even cooks for the Trojan Athletic Club. She does everything that is asked of her and more. She’s even had to lend a hand to referees. On more than one occasion, she’s had to find pants for a ref who mistakenly forgot to bring theirs. If there’s a task that needs completing Carla has got it covered. She’s there to help the coaches and athletes in any capacity. I don’t think Carla realizes the impact she has had, but everyone else does. Assistant women’s basketball coach Jamal Branco said, “Her selflessness and caring personality towards Dakota State athletics is something that is second to none.” He says she is like “the heartbeat of Dakota State Athletics.”
Carla has been around for so long it feels as though she really is a part of the Fieldhouse. It would feel strange to have her gone, but unfortunately, this will be the case next year. Carla is retiring at the end of the school year. In her retirement, she’s looking forward to spending time in her garden and seeing her grandchildren more. We wish Carla well in her future endeavors, but her presence will certainly be missed in the Fieldhouse. Carla, thank you for everything you have done for Dakota State University.