By AMBLE SMOKER
ONE FEATHER STAFF
WHITTIER – The John A Crowe Recreation Complex and the Cherokee Central Schools baseball fields held the 2014 Native American Youth Organization (NAYO) baseball/softball tournament Thursday, July 17 through Saturday, July 19. This tournament was the biggest baseball/softball event in NAYO history with fifty-five teams participating in ten divisions. The four tribes represented included: Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EBCI), Seminole Tribe of Florida (STOF), Poarch Band of Creek Indians (Ala.) (PBC), and the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians (MBCI).
“This is the first year one Tribe has hosted both basketball and baseball/softball (tournaments) in the same year, said Tim Smith, an EBCI tribal member who is the NAYO president. “The Recreation Department, I can’t talk enough about the work and time they’ve put in.”
The tournament began at 9am on Thursday morning but ran afoul when Mother Nature refused to cooperate on Friday. After a continuous downpour of rain and a brief delay in action, the tournament continued on a delayed schedule despite the treacherous conditions.
“I know the rain has set in but these kids, parents, and coaches have played right through it,” said Smith. “I just hope no one gets hurt.”
The Eastern Band of the Cherokee Indians had nine teams participate in this year’s tournament including: Tsalagi Tsi-Li (girls softball 7-8), GWY Sluggers (girls softball 9-10), Rez Heat (girls softball 13-15), Cherokee Girls (girls softball16-17) Cherokees (boys baseball 7-8), Cherokee Warriors (boys baseball 9-10), Seven Clans (boys baseball 9-10), Post 143 (boys baseball 11-12), and Cherokee (boys baseball 13-15).
Awards were given to the top two teams in each division. Three baseball teams from Cherokee took first place including: Seven Clans, Post 143, and Cherokee. Rez Heat took second place in the softball category.
The complete winners list from this year included:
7-8: 1st – Native Intensity (MBCI), 2nd – NC Elite (MBCI)
9-10: 1st – MBCI Elite (MBCI), 2nd – Native Sparks (MBCI)
11-12: 1st Lady Seminoles (STOF), 2nd – Native Elite (MBCI)
13-15: 1st – Team Intensity (MBCI), 2nd – Rez Heat (EBCI)
16-17: 1st – Lady Warriors (MBCI), 2nd – Independents (STOF)
7-8: 1st – Phillies (MBCI), 2nd – Choctaw Storm (MBCI)
9-10: 1st – Seven Clans (EBCI), 2nd – Warchiefs (MBCI)
11-12: 1st – Post 143 (EBCI), 2nd – Poarch Creek (PBC)
13-15: 1st – Cherokee (EBCI), 2nd – Poarch Creek (PBC)
16-17: 1st – Sooners (MBCI), 2nd – Poarch Creek (PBC)
NAYO has been providing Native American youth the opportunity to display their athletic skills for 27 years. Alongside the basketball tournaments in the spring, NAYO holds the softball/baseball tournament annually giving players the opportunity to compete against neighboring Native American tribes.