In 1913 a military branch of the society was formed called the “Ukrainian Sitch Riflemen”. They eventually became the nucleous of the Ukrainian Army. This was right before World War II.
The first branch of Ukrainian Sitch in America was formed in 1915 in New York. Within 2 years there were 14 branches of Sitch, including one in Bayone, NJ. By 1920, only 5 years after its inception, Sitch had 60 branches and over 3,000 members. At this point Sitch was an organization that promoted physical exercise and gymnastics. Members of Sitch in the U.S. participated in a variety of sports and also underwent para-military training. At this time the society founded a commercial enterprise called the “Sitch Bazaar” which wrote and published manuals on physical education. Sadly, in 1920 the society disbanded due to political reasons.
In 1924 the society was reborn and renamed “Chornomorska Sitch” in Newark, NJ. Objectives were formulated that consisted of uniting all Ukrainians in the diaspora regardless of their religious and/or political affilitiations, to promote and strengthen community and engage in cultural and educational activities. To aid the sick and unemployed members and most importantly to encourage physical exercise and sports. Why “Chornomorska Sitch”? After the last fortress of the Zaporozhian Sitch was destroyed back in the 16th century, the remaining Kozaks migrated to the Kuban area by the Black Sea, naming their new home the Chornomorska Sitch. The Ukrainian immigrants who founded the Sitch society in the US identified with the Kozaks and it was evident to them that the new name of the society should be Chornomorska Sitch. Just as the Kozaks reorganized and rebuilt, so would they.
The new and improved Chornomorska Sitch went through many changes – good and not so good. During World War II the organization went into a lull as many of the members joined the armed forces to fight in the war. In 1956, it was rejuvenated with a sports section of the organization with the thought of concentrating on physical activity for the youth. In the beginning, Chornomorska Sitch had a tremendous range of sports activities available to its members. Soccer, volleyball, tennis, ping pon, swimming, chess, hockey, skiing, bridge, golf. For over 50 years Chornomorska Sitch has been writing and publishing a bilingual annual magazine “Our Sport”. The only Ukrainian sports maganzine published outside of Ukraine.
In 1969 the idea of a summer Sports School was born. This idea was realized in the summer of 1970 when the first Chornomorska Sitch Sports School took place at Verkhovyna in Glen Spey, NY. That year the only sport offered was soccer. As time went on other sports were added, volleyball, tennis, track and field. There were certain years where sports such as gymnastics, wrestling, table tennis and archery. The Sports School has always welcomed Ukrainian athletes from all backgrounds regardless of political or religious affiliations and will continue to do so.
The Sitch society was founded in 1900 in Galicia and was originally a network of athletic and fire-fighting individuals. The name Sitch was taken from the Ukrainian Cossack fortress which was called a Zaporozhian Sitch. The Zaporozhian Sitch was considered the military and political center in the Ukrainian struggle for freedom in 16th century. Members of the early Sitch society were required to wear Ukrainian folk costumes or specific military uniforms with a maroon sash with the name “Sitch” and that members branch name, a hat with a red feather and a star shaped badge. Each member also carried a small Hutsul ax called a topir. In the beginning, Sitch was not about athletics. It was about promoting national consciousness and to raise the educational cultural level of their membership.