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Press Release

Release Date: October 23, 2019
by Chickasaw Nation Media Relations Office

SULPHUR, Okla. – The sun maintained its summer heat as stickball teams and fans from Oklahoma, Texas and Mississippi gathered at the Chickasaw Cultural Center for the inaugural Chickasaw Annual Meeting and Festival 12 on 12 coed stickball tournament.

It was a day of firsts.

The ground was freshly shaped, and the sod new. These matches were the first to be played on the field, which was scaled down to accommodate smaller or more social games.

The 12 on 12 game format split into halves rather than quarters was also a first. It made for faster-paced games which were easier for spectators to follow. Players were dedicated to either offense or defense, with fewer full-field runs and more player-to-player passes occurring.

One of the first homegrown, Oklahoma-based stickball drummers, Isiah Underwood, drummed out the heartbeat of the game on the sidelines with his father, Terrence Underwood, at his side. The “bum-badum, bum-badum, bum-badum” of his drum signaled when things were getting heated.

Competing on the tournament bracket were Tashkaikimilho, Chula Chaffa, Chunkvsh Bilili, Intertribal, Ala-cous, Chikasha Monstars, Salty Necks, N8TVZ and Scrub Nation. These were not official or sponsored teams, but groups of stickball players wanting a fun competition or hoping to show off their skills.

Four members of the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians – Tim Comby, Tilson Williams, Ray Willis, Glen Billie – visited Oklahoma to serve as referees.

Ace Greenwood served as announcer for most matchups, and occasionally played on the field himself. Brandon White Eagle was backup announcer. Above and beyond calling the action, both entertained everyone with humorous quips and bits of insight.

“All newcomers – non-Native, non-Chickasaw, non-human – we say welcome to this stickball tournament,” Greenwood told the crowd surrounding the field.

Games were planned back-to-back with only minutes for breaks. All but one game consisted of adult men and women. One was a youth match.

“That shot was a little bit low,” Greenwood said after a boy guarding the pole made a successful block. “They’ve got a big goalie, got to learn the lesson now to shoot for the top 2 feet of the pole!”

Most adult games ended with close scores below 10. A few were called early due to the mercy rule. If one team scored seven above the other, the winner was announced.

Scrums were less vicious during this stickball format, likely due to fewer players on the field. For the same reason, open shots were easier to find. A few runners were taken down with a tackle, but most successful defenses relied only on blocking shots with raised sticks or intercepting a loose ball and lobbing it back downfield.

“If you’ll notice, it looks like a rough game with a lot of running and hitting,” White Eagle announced after a strong play. “But we do not use our heads to hit!”

Chikasha Monstars beat out the Salty Necks to claim the win. The Chikasha Monstars team consisted of Bear Worcester, Taylor Harrison, Sunzie Harrison, Boomer Factor, Marc Sampson, Joel Chastain, Jared Walker, Anoli Billy, Devon Chapman, Brandon White Eagle, Brandon Postoak, Jamin Blanchard and Dalton Madden.

The stickball tournament was one part of the Chickasaw Annual Meeting and Festival, Sept. 27-Oct. 5.

The Chickasaw Cultural Center is located at 867 Cooper Memorial Road, Sulphur. Visit www.ChickasawCulturalCenter.com for more information.