Pitty party

Sanders family excels at obscure sport


Associated Press
Rick Krause of Sanders, Arizona, competes in the 2016 Cherry Pit Spit at Tree-Mendus Fruit Farm in Eau Claire, Michigan.

Everyone’s heard of Erich Rogers and Aaron Tsinigine. But did you know we have another world champion in our midst? In fact, a whole family of them.

You haven’t heard of Rick and Marlene Krause because their sport is a tad obscure. Undignified, even, some might say. The Krauses of Sanders, Arizona, are the world champion cherry pit spitters in the men’s and women’s divisions, respectively.

Rick moved to the reservation in 1985 from Eau Claire, Michigan, seeking a fresh start after a divorce. Since then, most people in these parts have come to know the muscular Midwesterner with the enviable beard simply as “Coach.”

In Sanders and Tuba City, he has coached every sport at every grade level, and is currently teaching physical education at A:shiwi Elementary School in Zuni.

But secretly, Coach Krause is a top-notch athlete himself. And so is his wife Marlene, his two sons and Marlene’s daughter, and all but his two youngest grandchildren (and believe us, they’re on their way).

“It’s kind of our family thing,” said Krause, noting that he or a family member has won the championship, women’s championship or one of the youth divisions 52 times since he started competing in 1980, just six years after the International Cherry Pit-Spitting Contest was initiated by Tree-Mendus Fruit, a you-pick orchard in Eau Claire.

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Categories: Community

About Author

Cindy Yurth

Cindy Yurth is the Tséyi' Bureau reporter, covering the Central Agency of the Navajo Nation. Her other beats include agriculture and Arizona state politics. She holds a bachelor’s degree in technical journalism from Colorado State University with a cognate in geology. She has been in the news business since 1980 and with the Navajo Times since 2005, and is the author of “Exploring the Navajo Nation Chapter by Chapter.” She can be reached at cyurth@navajotimes.com.