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Mild mediator

VALLEY CITY -- If you've attended a North Dakota high school state tournament, chances are you've run into Dave Carlsrud. He's the slender, stoic-looking man in the blue blazer, with close-cropped white hair and a face that looks far too young to...

Dave Carlsrud
Photo by David Samson/Forum Communications Co. Dave Carlsrud, the assistant to the executive secretary at the North Dakota High School Activities Association, shares a story from his career on May 5 at his office in Valley City. He will be retiring after 21 years with the NDHSAA.

VALLEY CITY -- If you've attended a North Dakota high school state tournament, chances are you've run into Dave Carlsrud.

He's the slender, stoic-looking man in the blue blazer, with close-cropped white hair and a face that looks far too young to have witnessed 63 birthdays.

One of a pair of North Dakota High School Activities Association assistants to the executive secretary, Carlsrud always appears very official at state events. The look fits perfectly because Carlsrud was a high school and college basketball official for several years.

One chat, however, shows a lighter side.

"I was a husky kid," Carlsrud said with a typically dry delivery of the daily afternoon jogs he takes in Valley City. "I don't want to go back."

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Carlsrud is retiring from the NDHSAA after 22 years. His final day will be June 30th.

He'll no longer be a presence at state tournaments, but his fingerprints will remain.

Carlsrud's primary duty over the years has been to bridge the gap between the NDHSAA and its officials. Carlsrud has a unique ability to understand the needs of officials from every sport.

He understands that officiating can be a thankless job. And he's been accessible to hear complaints, provide encouragement and to give rules clinics to help improve the quality of officiating in North Dakota.

"He was an official so he has a keen understanding of their needs and an awareness of what it takes to be a good official," NDHSAA Executive Secretary Sherm Sylling said. "He has really pounded on the idea that they should look and act like officials."

Exactly.

That's why it's not surprising to see Carlsrud looking so serious at all those state events. But his sense of humor often comes into play.

He loves to trade barbs with colleague Sheryl Solberg, an Assistant to the Executive Secretary who has worked for the NDHSAA since 1978.

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"When I'm on the road now, who am I going to turn to find the best coffee?" Solberg said.

Carlsrud and Solberg joke comfortably in the office, and during morning coffee breaks at the local café.

He also has a great working relationship with wife, Sue, who has worked as an administrative assistant at the NDHSAA since 1976.

Carlsrud said his biggest accomplishment was helping create national wrestling weight management guidelines.

The rules, still in place today, went into effect in the spring of 2005. At the time, Carlsrud was the chair of the wrestling rules committee for the National Federation of State High School Associations.

Carlsrud is quick to point out that he's been part of a great team.

"Anything I have done, I haven't done alone," he said.

Carlsrud said he's retiring from the NDHSAA to spend more time with his family. He and Sue have two grandchildren in Nevada, two grandchildren in Arkansas and one in Breckenridge, Minn.

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Carlsrud, who will remain in Valley City, said he will try to find another job that allows more flexibility to travel.

"We would like to be able to see (family) when we should instead of when we can," he said.

Hotzler is a reporter for The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead, which is owned by Forum Communications Co.

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