Oklahoma Competes in World Series Stickball
From the desk of Chief Gregory E. Pyle
Oklahoma Choctaws made history this July with a team entered in the World Series Stickball Game at Mississippi. We were made welcome by our brethren in our ancestral homeland, as were Choctaws from all over the United States, as teams gathered at the football field at the Choctaw High School in Choctaw, Mississippi. Gaming Commissioner Henry Williams said that 30 teams would compete before the week was over in the single elimination tournament. The Oklahoma team competed early in the week against “Unified” a diverse team of great players who ended the game in the double digits, while we cheered our team for their two points.
The enthusiastic and professional attitude of the men on the Oklahoma Team lifted my spirits for the entire week! As they prepared for the game, I could hear them singing, chanting, yelling and tapping their sticks from over a block away! They ceremoniously marched up the street to the stadium, led by two young men with drums. All in the bright turquoise shirts, many with matching bandanas and headbands, our team looked great, too.
This was my first time at the games, so when the Assistant Chief and I were asked to lead the team onto the field, we were honored and thrilled to participate. Still tapping their sticks, still led by the drummers, and still chanting and being loudly cheered on from the bleachers, our team marched three times from one end of the field to the other, continuing in a single file, then we were joined by our opponents who also snaked alongside our team on our journey from goalpost to goalpost. This was quite a sight, as both teams had abundant athletes – some teams have more than 100 players so that the 30 who are on the field can continually be refreshed with less-fatigued team mates from the sidelines.
I was proud to have prayer asked for the team and the game. We always begin meetings at Choctaw Nation with prayer and I am thankful when we are at public events hosted by others and they have the same traditions. Although we did not win the game, we were blessed to have no injuries. All that was broken was a pair of sticks.
After congratulating the Unified Team, the Oklahoma men left the field, talking about all they had learned and how excited they would be come back next year and compete again! These guys are true Choctaw sportsmen! I appreciate each and every one of them!