Men and boys off all ages were in Klamath on Saturday for the stick games tournament, held as part of the Yurok Tribe’s annual Salmon Festival.
The competition drew a total of 17 teams from Klamath, Crescent City, Hoopa, Witchepec, McKinleyville and Bear River. Athletes ranged in age from 5 and under, and worked their way up with divisions of 6-7, 8-9, 10-11, 12-13, 14-15 and 16-17 before wrapping up with a couple of adult teams.
“Klamath had the only five and under team, two of the brackets had four teams, a couple others had three and a couple of them were just two-team brackets,” said tournament organizer Lance Bates. “Everything went pretty well. There were no really big arguments and nobody got hurt. The adults (watching) didn’t get too riled up — that is all you can ask for right there in a stick games tournament.”
The stick tournament was the second of the year in Klamath and by far the best attended in terms of crowd size, with hundreds of people watching the competition from friends and family members of the athletes to curious Salmon Festival attendees.
The kids in Klamath have been practicing sticks throughout the summer, and the team has attended a total of four tournaments so far. Bates, who coaches the Klamath teams, said there is still one tournament in Lolita next weekend that Klamath may take a few teams too, but many of the athletes have started to move on to fall sports.
“Most of our guys are playing football, so we are pretty much done practicing. This kind of wraps things up for us, but we might have a few teams play next weekend. It is a lot easier when we just have to show up and play.”