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(Many Paths)
An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America
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Nighthawks Bringing Stickball Game Back
by Stacie Guthrie - Cherokee Phoenix reporter
credits: photos by Stacie Guthrie - Cherokee Phoenix

TAHLEQUAH, Okla. –The Nighthawks, formally known as the Gadugi Warriors, are a group of local men and women who formed a stickball team with hopes to bring back the game to Native tribes.

Marcus Thompson, team coordinator, said the team changed its name to the Nighthawks because some people had trouble pronouncing gadugi. He said members also wanted to keep the name diverse since there are players from the Cherokee Nation, United Keetoowah Band and Creek and Choctaw tribes.

On Feb. 9, 2013, the team started with 12 players. Its numbers gradually increased and now has 52 players, with nine being women. However, unlike traditional stickball rules, the women don't use their hands if they become Nighthawks. They use stickball sticks just like the men.

Thompson said the Nighthawks hope to bring back the game to their team members' respective cultures.

"We're trying to get the game back out and play, and the more Cherokees we got that play it, the better," he said. "It's been gone for awhile, except for the social game, but we're trying to get it back in our culture. That way we can play it more."

However, Thompson said his favorite thing about being on the team is just being able to play stickball.

"I've been playing for awhile. Lot of our teammates, they just started and ain't never played before," he said. "Most the time we play would be what they call a social game and that's for men and women with a pole and a fish. And the game we're playing now is the men's game, supposedly, but we have men and women playing too because they like to play."

The team only accepts players who are 18 and older. Sometimes at practices children play for fun and to learn.

Anyone interested in joining the Nighthawks or seeing them play can join their Facebook page, which is listed under the Gadugi Warriors, or email Thompson at

Thompson said for those who are looking to join, prepared for a hard game.

"Stickball, you know, it's a rough game. If anybody wants to try out and play it, you know, they're welcome to come."

The Nighthawks practice year-round at the UKB's cultural grounds and the Cherokee Male Seminary Stickball Field in Tahlequah so they don't get use to one field.

"We'll try to keep up…with the practicing that way, unless the weather gets real bad. We were out there, I think a couple of weeks ago, and it was drizzling ice out there," Thompson said.

Thompson said team members sometimes recruit people to play at the team's practices.

"On a field of stickball, in a tournament, you're suppose to have 30 people on the field and then you have your subs," he said. "So anytime we get 30 or more that's good. Sometimes we don't always have 30, but the team that we play will have to match what team, how many players we put in."

He said the team's first tournament was at the UKB grounds in April. Since then, they have played in Texas, Mississippi and various places across Oklahoma, winning one tournament.

The Nighthawks' next game was set for Feb. 1 in Ardmore and then another on its one-year anniversary of Feb. 9.

"We're going to have a social game with the girls that we got playing with us and we're going to play them," Thompson said. "It's going to be at the UKB grounds since that's where we first started at. They say they can beat us, we'll see."

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