Poarch preps for baseball tourney

Published 9:59 am Monday, June 6, 2005

By By Tim Cottrell
While many residents of Atmore are looking ahead to the beginning of All-Star tournaments for Cal Ripken and Babe Ruth Baseball, residents of Poarch are looking ahead to a different tournament, the Native American Youth Organization baseball and softball tournaments.
The tournaments will be held July 29-30 at the Poarch Creek Indian Reservation. The tournament rotates between host sites, and typically has 45 teams between the two age groups in baseball and softball. Age groups are divided from 9-12 years old and 13-17 years old for both genders.
Poarch Creek Indian Wellness &Activities Director Rodney Exum talked about the teams that would be making the trip to the Atmore area.
"We have several different tribes competing," Exum said. "We have the Seminole from Florida, the Cherokee from North Carolina, the Choctaw from Mississippi, the Seneca from New York, and two other teams have joined recently. One from Michigan and one from Minnesota."
Exum also noted that the area could expect around 500 players to make the trip to Atmore, and even more parents to travel with them. In addition to the large group coming to town, Exum was also trying to get the facilities ready for the heavy workload of games.
"We're in the process now of getting our umpires together," Exum said. "We're getting our fields ready, getting our trophies and awards together, and just getting set up for everything."
Exum noted that he was feeling confident about the tournament, and the record proves it.
"The older boys have won the last three years," Exum said. "Last year we had a first and third place. The older girls have won the last four or five years."
The only criteria to be a member of the team is to be of age and a tribal member or first generation of a federally recognized tribe, but Exum said he would be glad to take on more players who fit the criteria.
The two boys squads hosted a team from Choctaw Saturday and both swept double-headers.
In addition to gearing up for the NAYO Tournament, Exum is also trying to organize a number of other youth sports for the summer and fall.
"Our volleyball leagues are in progress (starting Tuesday) and in the near future we will be starting t-ball," Exum said. "We'll also be starting a football league this fall and we're trying to register people now."

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