Stickball (a ne jo di)

The Cherokee played a sport known as Stickball or Anejodi, which is very similar to lacrosse. Unlike modern-day lacrosse, the sticks are made of hickory! There is a rounded hoop on one end, which has rope/sinew stretched across to form a small net. The game uses a small ball, which is customarily made of deer hair and hide. To begin the game, the driver (see below) tosses the ball into the air. From there, the players must scoop up the ball with their stick, but once it is in their possession, they may transfer it to hold it with their hands.

Once in possession of the ball, the player will try to run to the other teams' goal posts (note: in some traditions, teams attempt to score on their own goal posts, not the opposite team's posts). If they make it to the goal posts, they score one point. The object of the game is to score twelve points. Players from the opposite teams may tackle and physically try to stop their opponents from reaching their goals. The game can often become very rough and violent and injuries are common!

Rules in AniWaya

  1. Players have one hickory stick each.
  2. Players must use their hickory stick to pick up the ball. Once it picked up by their stick, they can transfer it to their hands and run with it.
    • A player must move the ball with the hickory stick to above knee level in order to move it to their hand. Any ball moved to their hand below knee level is a foul.
    • Some players have even kept the ball in their mouths (allowed)! Transfering the ball to clothing, like a pocket, is not allowed.
  3. A point is made by running through the goal posts and back to the center of the playing field.
    • Note: the goal posts that the player must run through is the posts belonging to their team (i.e. you score on your own posts, ont the opposite team's posts. Thus there are no "keeper" player roles, only preventative player roles.)
    • If a player loses their ball before they make it back to the center of the field, there is no point.
  4. When a team gets to the score of 11, they drop the hickory sticks and use only their hands. The other team must still use their sticks.
  5. The team who reaches 12 points win the match

Strategies & mechanics

  • Players tend to group up to get the ball with their stick if it is on the ground - the game can be very chaotic.
  • There are no illegal tackles except headbutting, and no illegal blocks.
    • If a player has the ball, other players will tackle them to make them drop it. The game can be very violent and minor injuries are quite common (major injuries do happen, such as broken legs etc., though not as frequently). There is a general lack of rules when it comes to tackling.
  • The game's referee is called a "Driver" -- if the driver calls a uwa'yi (meaning "with the hands"), it's a foul. In the case of a foul, the game is halted and the driver tosses the ball onto the field to re-start it. Fouls do not have penalties for an offending player.
      Fouls can be:
    • touching the ball with your hands or feet at improper times<7li>
    • if there is a pileup and the game is not moving
    • if a serious injury or a headbutt occurs.
  • A player who gets the ball into their stick may flip it away onto a different place on the playing field instead of picking it up to run (specifically, where another team player may reach it quickly) if the crowd is thick where the ball is. The other team player will have a better shot at making a point as they are positioned better.
  • The playing field has no real borders: if the ball ends up in the audience, the audience better move!

More information

Some variations in the gameplay include:

Depending on tribe, the rules of stickball can vary considerably. For example, some play with a large central pole rather than the two goal posts. The central post has the image of a fish on top and each team gains points by trying to hit the fish with their ball. Another variation involves playing with only one stick each or if women are allowed to play, which goes against tradition, they play only with their hands. "How to Play Cherokee Stickball"

Historically, the game was played only by males. However, in AniWaya, both sexes play.

There would often be a dance before the ballgame:

The ballplayers were the participants of the dance, along with seven women dancers. Each woman represented one of the clans. Throughout the dance, the women would step on black beads which represented the players of the opposing team. The conjurer had placed these black beads on a large flat rock. Today, stickball is an important part of the days activities at ceremonial Stomp Grounds, being necessary to play before the Stomp Dance can ever begin. "Stickball (a ne jo di)"

For more information on what Stickball looks like, you can refer to these videos:

Last updated on Sat, 05 Jul 2014 at 02:42 PM by Marit