4 inducted into CNMI Hall of Fame

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JERRY Ayuyu, Chris Nelson, Rufino Aguon and Louie Wabol were inducted into the CNMI Hall of Fame in honor of their contributions and performance in the sporting world.

“Every time I saw [Ayuyu] play he always had a smile — he always made people feel good,” said presenter Bob Coldeen during the Northern Marianas Sports Association Annual Banquet at the Fiesta Resort & Spa.

As a long-time cable TV sports reporter, Coldeen has witnessed many of these Hall of Famers in action.

Ayuyu was known for his talents in baseball, but he also excelled in basketball and volleyball.

He was a team leader who won the silver medal in the Micronesian Games as part of the CNMI basketball team, and championship trophies for softball with his team, Brotherhood.

“It feels great,” Ayuyu said, referring to his inclusion in the Hall of Fame. “Playing all the sports and trying to represent our islands are very important not just for me, but for everyone. Baseball is my favorite sport. I’ve played it since I was very young. But basically I love all the sports. The only thing I was not a part of was swimming. I’m more of a team-based player.”

Hall of Fame inductees Chris Nelson, Jerry Ayuyu, Rufino Aguon (represented by Lawrence Camacho) and Louie Wabol (represented by Robin Sapong) pose with their trophies alongside the Northern Marianas Sports Association board members during Wednesday’s NMSA Annual Banquet at the Fiesta Resort & Spa.  Photo by James F. Sablan Jr. 

Another multi-sport athlete inducted on Wednesday night was Chris Nelson. Known for his performance on the pitcher’s mound, Nelson has traveled with the CNMI baseball team which won a gold medal the 2006 Micronesian Games.

Beginning in1995, Coldeen said he witnessed Nelson’s greatness in the Saipan Major League Baseball. As a pitcher for the UMDA Aces, Nelson was outstanding. He and Tony Benevente were considered the island’s best pitchers, Coldeen said.

After beating Guam in the Mobil Games, Guam recruited Nelson to play in the Guam Major League on the weekends.

“It is such an honor to play sports for the CNMI,” Nelson said. “When I first came here I played against some of the guys on island and then got to play with them. They mentioned Tony Benevente and I being competitors on the field but we played together for the CNMI and we became good friends. Seeing Jerry, who I used to throw to, seeing him tonight up on the stage was really meaningful. Saipan is just a great place to play sports. I’m happy to have lived here. Baseball is my love.”

Nelson currently plays soccer and beach volleyball.

The sports career of the fourth Hall of Famer inductee, Louie Wabol, began in the 1960’s before there was a track & field on island. Robin Sapong, general secretary of the Northern Marianas Athletics, received the trophy on Wabol’s behalf.

The last on the honors list is a well-known basketball coach, Rufino Aguon. The president of the Basketball Association, Lawrence Camacho, received the award on Aguon’s behalf.

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