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(Many Paths)
An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America
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Nighthawks Reflect On 2016 World Series Stickball
by Lindsey Bark - Cherokee Phoenix staff writer

CHOCTAW, MS — Players from the Tahlequah, Oklahoma-based Nighthawks stickball team competed July 5-16 in the 2016 World Series Stickball tournament in Mississippi.

Since 2013, the Nighthawks have competed in tournaments and games throughout Oklahoma, where only three stickball teams are based. The teams host tournaments and games at their home fields and compete coed style.

Utselvnvhi Foreman, second from left, Waylon Squirrel, No. 19, and Wesley Proctor, right, scrum for the ball for the Tiak Hikiya stickball team against Nanih Waiya players on July 8 at the World Series Stickball in Choctaw, Mississippi. Foreman, Squirrel and Proctor all play for the Nighthawks stickball team in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. (photo courtesy of Marcus Thompson)

In Mississippi, the WSS is held annually in July with simultaneous tournaments for different divisions such as men's, women's, men's 35-and-over, youth (ages 14-17) and Pushmataha (ages 10-13). The majority of teams come from surrounding communities.

This year some Nighthawks experienced playing in the WSS. Cherokee Nation citizen Utselvnvhi Foreman played with the Tiak Hikiya men's team. He said to prepare he had to contend with travel time, be in good condition and have plenty of practice. He said there was also a certain amount of focus he had to attain going into his team's first game.

"Butterflies come on, but they go away as soon as the first ball is thrown up," Foreman said.

Tiak Hikiya players, purple jerseys, defend a goal against a shooter from the Nanih Waiya team on July 8 at a World Series Stickball game in Choctaw, Mississippi. Several players from the Tahlequah, Oklahoma-based Nighthawks stickball team played in the stickball tournament for different teams. (photo courtesy of Marcus Thompson)

Tiak Hikiya, purple jerseys, and Nanih Waiya players vie for the ball during a toss-up at midfield during a game at the World Series Stickball in Mississippi. Players from a team in Tahlequah, Oklahoma, played for teams at the July tournament. (photo courtesy of Marcus Thompson)

CN citizen Marcus Thompson, who played for the men's 35-and-over team Toli Ayasha, said the playing style and skill of the Mississippi Choctaw is at a high level. He said most Choctaw players have been playing since they were kids and have skills to pick up the ball quickly and catch it midflight.

United Keetoowah Band citizen Kyle Bark also played for the Tiak Hikiya team. He said the Choctaw teams were "more focused and more knowledgeable about the game." He said he did better than expected and even had the chance to score but became "overzealous" and dropped the ball. He said he knows what to expect now and expects to play better next year.

CN citizen B.J. Frogg also competed with the Tiak Hikiya team. Though playing goalie was not his first choice, he said he "took one for the team" and did what he had to do.

As defensive captain for the Nighthawks, Frogg said he liked the way Tiak Hikiya set up its defense and could put it to use. "I'm probably going to steal their defensive set-up, or borrow it, and maybe try to apply that to how we play up here (in Oklahoma) and hopefully, maybe, we can play some better defense up here."

On the women's side, the skills were at a level comparable to the men. In Mississippi, there are full-fledged women's teams whereas in Oklahoma, the number of women players is smaller and averages seven to 10 women per coed team.

CN citizen Samantha Sanders played in her second WSS and said the Choctaw women are talented and the games are fast-paced so she felt she had to "step it up a notch."

"When I play with the Lady War Eagles, it's more of a rush because it's all women. They are tough and rough and expect the same out of me," Sanders said. "They can get tackled and knocked down and not take it personal. The ladies always show us a good time and treat us like family."

Frannie McKay, a Salt River Pima-Maricopa citizen who also played for the Lady War Eagles, said playing stickball, whether coed or on all-women teams, is "a lot like living life."

"If you know you're actively going to step on that field, you have to be prepared for anything," McKay said.
The Lady War Eagles and Tiak Hikiya did not make it past the first round, while Toli Ayasha made it to semifinals before being eliminated.

"They said if you want to play and call yourself a stickball player, that's (Mississippi) the place to go play, down in the World Series," Bark said.

World Series Stickball Team: Nighthawks Player
Bok Cito Ohoyo: Roberta Comby
Lady War Eagles: Carla Feathers, Frannie McKay, Tresa Eagle and Samantha Sanders
Tiak Hikiya: Clint Proctor, B.J. Frogg, Dustin Polk, Kyle Bark, Brian Hummingbird, Waylon Squirrel, Jerome Still, Wes Proctor, Josh Foreman and Chris Foreman
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