Winning the 2014 Tan Siu Lin Foundation/NMSA Female Student Athlete of the Year last month was a wish come true for Gabrielle Race.
“When I was 9, I was one vote away from winning the 2007 Female Student Athlete of the Year against Jacqueline Wonenberg who is quite a bit older than me. Since then, I have always wanted to win the award. It’s something I’ve always secretly hoped that I would receive,” said Race, who got the award last month during the NMSA Annual Banquet at the Seaside Hall of Kanoa Resort.
Though her wish was granted, it was not handed to her on a silver platter. She had to earn the coveted award by excelling in not only one but multiple sports.
The Marianas High School junior suited up for the CNMI Women’s National Team that won its first East Asian Football Federation-sanctioned game against Macau in a qualifying tournament in Guam last year. Race scored in the team’s 7-0 rout of the former Portuguese colony and earlier played for a select squad that stunned Hong Kong’s U19 national crew in an invitational off-island tournament.
On island, Race also played for the MHS Lady Dolphins, who ruled the MISO league with an unbeaten record. In the NMIFA league, Race and her Shirley’s Football Club topped the fall season of last year’s competition.
Despite having her hands full playing soccer, Race still managed to compete in several other sports. In athletics, she helped the Lady Dolphins take the high school division championship in the McDonald’s/PSS All Schools Championships, handing MHS gold medals in the 800m, 1,500m, and 3,000m runs, 4x100m and 4x400m relay, and javelin, and bronze in long jump. Race also ruled Northern Marianas Athletics’ Cross Country Championship and the Turkey Trot Run.
The 17-year-old student-athlete gave MHS two more honors when she suited up for the school’s teams that won the 4x50m freestyle relay in the SSC All Schools Meet and the basketball title in the MISO caging.
Race made all these accomplishments possible by trying her very best to balance her time between sports and school.
“The biggest challenge for me was balancing out all of my activities. As an AP student, I had trouble making time for homework, various sports practices, and sleep. There wasn’t really any secret method to getting through it. I just tried to do everything that I needed to do in order to reach my goals,” she said.
Race also credited her dad, CNMI Hall of Famer Jeff Race, for having a long list of achievements in sports.
“From a very early age, he nudged me toward sports, which has now led me to where I am today,” the younger Race said.
After her outstanding 2014 season, Race aims to continue reaping awards for the teams she plays for before leaving the island for college next year.
“I hope to continue playing soccer competitively while doing basketball and athletics for fun. I want to become a better soccer player and better athlete overall. I also want my teams to succeed together and keep helping each other get better because your team becomes like a little family,” said Race, who hopes to have another wish granted next year as she shoots for a soccer scholarship in college.
She also has some advice to fellow student-athletes.
“Just do your best. People often notice when an athlete works hard and good results usually follow hard work. Also, when you try your best, you can be proud of yourself even if people don’t recognize the work you have done.”