The Northern Marianas National Paddle Sports Federation has finalized the 28-person CNMI National Outrigger Canoe Team for next month’s Northern Marianas Pacific Mini Games 2022.
The 14-paddler men’s crew is made up of Joshua Andrew, Timothy Asaivao, Carter Calma, Rodney Camacho, Michael Fleming III, William Grow II, Maverick Itibus, Ketson Kabiriel, James Lee, Benusto Olopai, Jose Quan, Richard Salas, Jovano Taitano, and Jason Tarkong.
The women’s team includes Victoria Aldan, Heather Calderwood, Danica Calvo, Rica Concepcion, Erryne Dasalla, Jenisha Dubrall, Mayiah Duenas, Gerlyn Libunao, Vinalyn Oronigo, Kaya Rasa, Elaine Sablan, Sharleen Sablan, Teresa Sablan, and Elizabeth Tenorio.
NMNPSF president Justin Andrew said the team is a good mix and a great representation of the CNMI’s diverse community.
“The teams consist of sports enthusiasts and practitioners of other sports disciplines, sports trainers, business owners, healthcare workers, private and public sector workers in different capacities, teachers, and students, but they are not strangers to the sport of outrigger paddling. All our athletes have participated in at least a few of our locally held outrigger race competitions, and most have competed regionally and internationally in Micronesia Cup, Micronesian Games, and the Pacific Games.”
The CNMI national va’a coach added that the selection of the team members involved a rigorous process that took place on land and in the canoe.
“The process took about three months testing agility, strength and conditioning, knowledge of basic paddling techniques, ability to work as a team, to be coachable and be fully committed to the team to represent the NMI at the highest level of va’a paddling competition the NMI has ever held.”
Andrew said over the past few months the men’s and women’s national team have bonded really well and are ready to represent the CNMI for the Mini Games set from June 17 to 25 this year.
“The team is enriched with its diversity and over the past few months, have really come together as a family away from home spending almost every day of the week together in canoe train ing. We know that every country sending athletes works just as hard as we are, and we understand the competition will be tough, but we will do our best.”
The CNMI National Men’s and Women’s Outrigger Team got to test the outrigger course for the Mini Games when the NMNPSF held a dry run for the event last Saturday in the waters off the 13 Fishermen Monument beach.
“It’s just to run it through and if there should be any adjustments we need to make, this is the day we get those notes and then make those adjustments for the actual race.”
The dry run included the national paddlers walking through the registration process, proceed to the waiting area, march to the staging area where they will enter their canoes, paddle, and then when they finish the “race” come back in and allow the volunteers to handle the canoe.
With 182 athletes, the sport of va’a has the second most entries for the Mini Games after athletics (329). New Caledonia, Papua New Guinea, and the CNMI have the most paddlers with 28 apiece, followed by Guam with 24, Wallis & Futuna with 20, Tahiti with eight, Fiji with six, Norfolk Island with three, Cook Islands with two, and Palau with one.