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Updated 11:00am - Nov 26, 2014

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Tradition preserved

Roger McCovey and Curtis Kane square off at last year's Stick Game competition at the Salmon Festival in Klamath. This year's stick game tournament will  be held on Sunday. (Submitted photo).
Roger McCovey and Curtis Kane square off at last year's Stick Game competition at the Salmon Festival in Klamath. This year's stick game tournament will be held on Sunday. (Submitted photo).

By Bill Choy

Triplicate Sports Editor

A game that has been played for for generations is being preserved by members of the Yurok Tribe.

The Stick Game is a combination of sports such as lacrosse, hockey, football and rugby.

The game has become an annual tradition at the Klamath Salmon Festival, which will be held on Sunday in Klamath.

"It's part of my culture," said Oscar Gensaw, recruitment specialist for the Yurok Tribe.

He added the game has been passed down to him and members of his family through tribal elders.

The equipment used in the game consists of a ball, normally made by using a chunk of wood weaved together, and a tall stick.

The goal is to get the ball to the opponent's goal.

Each team consists of three players each and is normally played barefoot on sand.

Like football and rugby, the sport is full contact.

James Gensaw, 26, the brother of Oscar, has been playing since he was a kid.

"I just love scoring," he said. "It's a good feeling to play. It releases some good energy."

Generations ago, the game was played for a number of reasons–from "just for fun" to "settling disputes," James Gensaw said.

While it's quite a physical sport with lots of contact, James said participants try to show respect to each other and try not to purposely hurt one another or play dirty.

After all, the majority of participants are neighbors and it would show disrespect to play the sport the wrong way. James said participants should go out and play with "love for your people" and be "honorable."

Children also participate in the game and James said he's pleased to help pass on a tradition to the next generation as it was done when he was young.

Oscar concurred, saying the game teaches Tribal members pride and tradition and "good cultural values," that can help them shape their lives in a positive direction.

And, it's a great way for the community to get together.

"It's a good place to meet people you haven't seen in awhile," he said.

Stick Game competition will begin around 11:30 a.m. at the festival.

Besides the Stick Game, several other sporting events are scheduled.

A 3-on-3 basketball tournament will take place from 1-4 p.m. Registration is from 10:30 a.m to noon.

A softball tournament begins today at 9 a.m. at the Klamath Softball Field next to Camper Corral and goes through Sunday.

From 2:30-5:30 p.m. Sunday, there will be a Horseshoe tournament.

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