Choctaw Nation sends three teams to Stickball World Series
DURANT, Okla. (KTEN) —The Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma sent three teams to the World Series of Stickball in Choctaw, Mississippi.
Stickball (Kapucha Toli in the Choctaw language) is one of the oldest sports in North America. It is played by several southeastern tribes, including the Chickasaw and Cherokee tribes.
"Stickball was used in the past to settle disputes between communities, between tribes," explained historian and stickball player Ryan Spring. "But the game has evolved and changed, just like all culture does."
The goal of stickball is to hit a post on the field with the ball to earn points. Players use long sticks to pass the ball and cannot touch the ball with their hands, similar to lacrosse — but with tackling.
"There's running to it, there's a lot of throwing, but you don't want to hold on to the ball for too long or someone will hit you," Spring said.
Playing this game helps keep Choctaw culture alive.
"To continue playing, it honors those that have come before us. It honors those in the present, and it honors our future generations," Spring said. "But it also honors God, who gave us the game."
The women's team and the over-35 team made it to the semifinals before losing, while the men's team got knocked out in game one.
"The ball has to hit the pole to score, and we had several shots that missed by just a few inches, and that's the difference in the game," stickball coach and player Dewayne Hornbuckle said.
This is the farthest the women's team has ever advanced in the tournament.
"Our women's team really excelled," Hornbuckle said. "They were able to win games in their third appearance."
The Choctaw Cultural Center in Calera, Oklahoma, holds daily stickball exhibitions for those who want to learn more.