The CNMI Sports Hall of Fame welcomed four new members to its elite club during last night’s 2016 Northern Marianas Sports Association Annual Banquet held at the Hibiscus Hall of the Fiesta Resort & Spa Saipan.
Olympian Jon Sakovich led the Class of 2016 and was joined by coach Elias Rangamar and players Peter Camacho and Joyce Taro. They are now in the select company of Frank “Sonny” Flores, Tony C. Camacho, Max Pangelinan, Michael White, Emy Quitugua, Mel Sakisat Sr., Bertha Chong, Tony Ichiou, Jean and Bill Sakovich, Kurt Barnes, Mike VIllagomez, Jeff Race, Frank Castro, Tony Rogolifoi, Tony Satur, Francisco “Tan Ko” Palacios, Cecilia Lisua, Jose Tenorio Sablan, Ricardo Duenas, Antonio Benavente, and the late Jess Wabol and Irene Alpet.
Sakovich, now based in Florida and serves as head coach and aquatics director of Bolles School in Jacksonville, is the most successful swimmer raised in the CNMI, having represented the Commonwealth in various international competitions. He is so good that his national and age group marks made way back in the 1970s are still in the CNMI record books. He was a member of the Saipan Swim Club and after leaving the island and completing high school in Guam, he earned a scholarship from the University of Florida in Gainesville and got seven All-American honors while competing in NCAA from 1989 to 1992.
The 1990s was also the time Peter Camacho stood out in basketball and also did well in volleyball and softball. He became the youngest member of the CNMI Men’s National Team (at age 16) that competed in the 1990 Micronesian Games and still holds the record in the most points scored (104) in a single game. Camacho also suited up for the Commonwealth’s national teams in volleyball (1991 South Pacific Games) and softball (gold medal winner in 1999 South Pacific Games).
For his part, Rangamar was included on the CNMI Sports Hall of Fame for having been a multi-titled coach of the Ol’Aces basketball team, a mentor to several NMSA Athletes of the Year awardees both in basketball and athletics, and a NMSA awardee himself. Rangamar was NMSA Coach of the Year in 2008, 2009, and 2014.
Taro—the lone female inductee in the Class of 2016—is recognized for her outstanding performance as a player and coach of slow-pitch and fast-pitch softball. She is mentioned in the same breath as CNMI softball greats Cecilia Lisua, Maggie Taitano-Olopai, and Emy Quitugua. Taro was involved in softball for nearly five decades, starting with her junior high playing years at Hopwood, which she led to multiple titles against senior teams from MHS and Mt. Carmel School. She was also a many-time member of the Commonwealth’s national squads.
Taro missed the induction ceremony and her nephew Tyrone Omar received her award. Sakovich also could not attend yesterday’s event, but sent a video message to thank all the people and companies on Saipan and Guam who made his successful journey in swimming possible.
Rangamar and Camacho, on the other hand, personally received their awards and both were humbled to be in the company of players and coaches whom they used to watch when they were just starting to get involved in sports.
“I still have some playing years left and this award encourages me to work back and play,” Camacho said.
“I am very honored for this recognition and I will continue my commitment to train players,” Rangamar said.