NMI Sports Hall of Fame inductee and longtime Saipan resident Bill Sakovich is due to arrive in the CNMI on March 29, in time for the April 1 staging of the 2006 XTERRA Saipan Championships and the Tagaman Triathlon a week later.
Together with his wife, fellow Hall of Famer, Jean, the Sakoviches have remained involved in sports in their new home in Hilo, Hawaii.
“Since my last trip to Majuro to help the Republic of Marshall Islands prepare for Olympic recognition, which they received earlier this month, I have stayed at home coaching the Waiakea High School swimmers,” said Bill.
The Saipan Swim Club founder said he relishes his involvement in swimming and the whole experience mentoring a bunch of kids on the Big Island.
“I had 20 swimmers but only four boys. Only a few made it to state finals and no one ‘finaled.’ Fortunately, the majority of swimmers are freshmen and sophomores, so we still have time to improve. It was a good season overall, with all swimmers improving on their previous times,” he said.
As for Jean, Bill concedes that his wife and fellow SSC founder has been a bit more successful on her coaching stint.
“Jeannie finished her coaching at Hilo High School with two swimmers making it to the state finals. As for me, I will continue with the Hilo Aquatics age group team and assist the Waiakea waterpolo girls team coach for,” he said.
Bill said he and Jean have also been doing some training themselves and are looking to take part in the Big Island Marathon.
“Both of us are training as much as possible, but not enough, for the upcoming 10.8-mile run along the Hamakua Coast, old highway along the coastline, in conjunction with the Big Island Marathon. We are also paddling with a University of Hawaii group once a week,” said Bill, who went to the University of California, Los Angeles and is a former Peace Corps volunteer.
One of organizers of the revived 1990 Saipan Micronesian Games, Bill has also remained active in coordinating sports events in Hilo.
“I have tried to help promote the Big Island Marathon and the 2nd Big Island Water Polo tournament scheduled for July 2006,” he said.
An offshoot of their relocation to Hawaii is their relative proximity to family.
“We have also been re-acquainting ourselves with all the relatives we have rarely seen over the last 30 years. Many of Jeannie’s family are here or on the other islands and one of my brothers now lives here in Hilo,” he said.
As far as their immediate family goes, Bill said they had some sort of family reunion last year.
“My mother and brother, Jon, his wife, and three kids, and Anneka all visited us this past summer. In fact Jon’s youngest son, seven-year-old John is now on the Bolles’ swim team and recently swam in his first meet and did very well. Not sure how he placed but he did well,” he said.
Being back on Hilo, where Saipan-born Anneka went to school, also rekindled memories of her daughter’s sports achievements on the island and Bill said he is amazed that a lot of people still remember her daughter’s exploits in swimming, close to 20 years after her graduation.
“Since Anneka went to high school here at Hilo High [School], I am running into many people who remember her when she swam, and she was one of the top swimmers and placed in state finals and held a Big Island record in the 200yd freestyle for a couple years. She is also remembered by many of the swimming officials,” he said.