Manny Sablan inducted into Hall of Fame


From left, Northern Marianas Sports Association president Jerry Tan, John Davis, 2022 Coach of the Year Antonette Labausa, Manny Sablan, David Barnhouse, and Jeff Race, James Lee, Alex Sablan, and Nick Gross pose for a photo in the 2022 NMSA Annual Sports Award Banquet Tuesday evening at the Hibiscus Hall of the Crowne Plaza Resort Saipan. (LEIGH GASES)

With a remarkable 28-year career and counting in baseball as both a player and a coach, Manny Sablan has been inducted into the NMI Sports Hall of Fame. 

Rightfully so, he also received the 2022 Coach of the Year Award along with tennis’ Jeff Race and weightlifting’s Antonette Labausa and David Barnhouse during the 2022 NMSA Annual Sports Award Banquet Tuesday evening at the Hibiscus Hall of the Crowne Plaza Resort Saipan.

The 42-year-old Sablan started his love for baseball back in 1994 and was a product of the Saipan Little League Baseball Association and represented the NMI in the Big League World Series in 1997 and 1998.

He then played for the Saipan Major League (Now Saipan Baseball League) and was selected as a member of the NMI national team on several occasions, competing in the then South Pacific and South Pacific Mini Games, Mobil Games, and Micronesian Games. While in the SML, he also coached in the Little League, leading the Patriots to undefeated seasons in the Major and Junior divisions. He was also a girls fast-pitch softball coach for Saipan Southern High School, Mt. Carmel School, and the Patriots Angels.

Sablan was also awarded 2022 Coach of the Year as he managed the NMI National Baseball Team that won the gold medal in the Northern Marianas Pacific Mini Games 2022. 

He thanked “the [Saipan Baseball League] board for nominating me for this award. I have no idea. I thought the award was for the entire baseball team for winning the gold medal.”

He then dedicated his awards to his late mother, Consolacion Sablan, who was his biggest supporter. “She never missed a single game. She was able to watch all my games, including off-island games like the ’97-’98 World Series in Florida [and the] 1999 South Pacific Games in Guam.” 

With baseball making a comeback in the CNMI this March 25, Sablan said “finally, baseball’s back, so we’ll see a lot of young young talents coming up. They’re the future of representing CNMI in baseball so we just got to share the knowledge with them.”

Race also took a slice of the cake for Coach of the Year as he coached the NMI National Tennis Team to three gold medals in the Mini Games. ATP Tour veteran Colin Sinclair prevailed in the men’s singles and teamed up with Robbie Schorr in the men’s doubles finals. Sinclair, Schorr, Bobby Cruz, and Colin Ramsey also topped the men’s team event. Also, Sinclair and Isabel Herras finished third in the mixed doubles. 

The Hall of Famer and seven-time Coach of the Year winner, (2001, 2003, 2007, 2012, 2017, 2019, 2022) said, “coaching tennis is my passion, my vocation, and the thing I do the best… I must dedicate this to my wife, Heidi. She has put up with my tennis addiction for 38 years now.”

Moverover, in 2022 for tennis, CNMI’s LaHunn Lam made history by becoming the youngest player to play in Wimbledon. CNMI netters made their home islands proud by again dominating the North Pacific Regional Championships last July. 

For weightlifting’s Labausa and Barnhouse, both coached the CNMI Weightlifting Team that took the biggest haul of medals in the Mini Games.

They handed Team NMI 11 gold medals, with Ray Santos and Barnhouse getting three apiece; Angel San Nicolas and Jason Limes gaining two each; and Joey Colisao adding one.

Additionally, they gave Team NMI the most silvers with 10 (three each from Leo Apelo and Labausa, two from Colisao, and one apiece from Leowel Cristobal and Angel San Nicolas). 

Labausa told Saipan Tribune after her win, “I was actually surprised that we were nominated for coach of the year and even more surprised that we won. I am saying ‘we; because David Barnhouse and I were both coaches for the National Weightlifting Team at the Mini Games and we both helped each other tremendously throughout the season.”

On why she coaches, she said “I really enjoy coaching because I want to give back to the community, which is the reason behind creating the Barbell Club at Latte Built. I am very grateful for them and CNMI weightlifting as they both support this effort.”

Her motivation in coaching is the people that stay dedicated to the sport and that “I have learned a lot from my previous coaches as an athlete in basketball and weightlifting and I just want to continue to keep passing on those positive traits to our athletes.”

With a degree in Kinesiology and certificates to back up her experience and with eight years of weightlifting, she said she “unintentionally became a coach… I have taught many people how to do the Olympic style lifts since my first debut in 2018 preparing for the Micronesian Games in Yap. My main goal at the time was to teach anyone, especially females how to lift and inspire them to get out of their comfort zone and get strong, and also grow our weightlifting team. Coincidentally the first person I have ever coached was Riella Ichiuo and look at her now, she’s doing great. To clarify I do not coach her anymore but she is now my teammate and training partner. And that is awesome to me.”

She then dedicated her win “to the athletes who put their trust in me as their coach along with my other half, Devine Pua, for supporting my aspirations to fulfill this role at the Pacific Mini Games. It was not an easy task but I appreciate the experience from it and I am honored to be named one of the coaches of the year. Thank you.”

The event was sponsored by the TSL Foundation, led by executive director Merlie Tolentino.

Results of the other NMSA Sports Banquet awards will come out in the next issues of Saipan Tribune.

Leigh Gases
Leigh Gases is the youngest reporter of Saipan Tribune and primarily covers community related news, but she also handles the utilities, education, municipal, and veterans beats. Contact Leigh at

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