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Last updateThu, 24 Oct 2019 12am







    Wednesday, October 23, 2019-2:35:10A.M.






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Micronesia’s sports legends honored in Kurt Barnes’ book

HONORING the islands’ great athletes, educators and coaches, Dr. Kurt Barnes has put together a compendium of records and biographies for posterity in a book launched by the Humanities Council Wednesday night at the Visitors Center of the American Memorial Park.

Dr. Barnes’ “Sports Legends of Micronesia 1966-2012,” gathers in one place a historical record of Micronesians who have excelled in various sports.

“There is no written history,” said Dr. Barnes, lamenting the lack of readily available information about athletes and their accomplishments such as the records kept by Francisco Palacios of baseball scores for the last 50 years.

Barnes said, “A lot of the great athletes are passing on. I thought it important to get it all down im book form so they could see it before their turn comes to move on.”

Dr. Barnes said it took him three years to complete his project which he said was funded in part by the Northern Marianas Humanities Council.

Dr. Barnes says the project had its ups and downs; however, he persevered and saw it to completion.

“I had a good time doing it. That is one reason I was able to finish it because nothing bothered me,” he said.

Deciding on who to include in the book was the most difficult decision to make.

Dr. Barnes said the main reason he pursued the project was to showcase the achievements of sports legends from the major island groups in Micronesia: the CNMI, Guam, Palau, the Marshalls, Yap, Kosrae, Pohnopei and Chuuk.

He also said that the book recognizes the achievements and contributions of Micronesians to their respective sports programs and how the program have evolved to this day.

In deciding who among the athletes was to be included, Dr. Barnes acknowledged that the selection committee had to avoid personal biases and focus on statistics, performance and accomplishment as deciding factors in selecting the sports legends.

Dr. Barnes explained why he chose 1966 as the beginning year for gathering records and accomplishments.

He noted that 1966 was the year when sports programs began developing in the region.

Dr. Kurt Barnes signs a copy of his book “Sports Legends of Micronesia: 1966-2012” at the American Memorial Park’s Visitor Center on Wednesday night.  Photo by Alexie Villegas ZotomayorDr. Kurt Barnes signs a copy of his book “Sports Legends of Micronesia: 1966-2012” at the American Memorial Park’s Visitor Center on Wednesday night. Photo by Alexie Villegas Zotomayor
He also said the Peace Corps in that same year began flooding the Trust Territory with volunteers who helped shape sports programs in the islands.

In working on the book, Dr. Barnes acknowledged working closely with Tony Rogolifoi whom he considers “the greatest basketball player.”

For Dr. Barnes, the conversations he had with the athletes were most memorable as they all traveled down memory lane recounting those bygone years.

He also shared how the project made history by gathering together Palau’s baseball greats at the Rock Island Café — a feat he said would have been difficult during the athletes’ heyday owing to the intense rivalries between baseball teams.

“Eight players were there,” he said, others having already passed away.

He said rivalry was so intense in Palau that it would have been unimaginable in the past to get these players together.

Also present at the book launch last Wednesday night was Rick Duenas.

He said he appreciated the inclusion of his accomplishments in the book.

Duenas said he was in his prime in the ‘70s.

Asked to name his favorite personal sports memory, he said, “I hit two homeruns in one inning. I managed to bat two times in one inning, which was almost impossible to do. I did it. It was a miracle. That was a big thing for me.”

Dr. Barnes’ book has on its front and back covers pictures of two of Micronesia’s most celebrated athletes: Yap’s Manuel Minginfel who earned a silver medal in the 2006 World Weightlifting Championships and Guam’s Lori Cruz Hayden Marino who won the women’s lightweight bodybuilding world championship in 2003.

For Dr. Barnes, the islands have come a long way with respect to their sports programs since Guam started competing in the South Pacific Games in 1966 and the rest of the islands joined the 1969 Micronesian Games.

Those interested in getting a copy of the book may email Dr. Barnes at

The book is available for $20 a copy.