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The Cornhole Tournament Experience

Earlier this year, I started taking up cornhole as a hobby and as a way to meet some new people at my church and actively compete in something. Prior to joining my church’s cornhole group, I had bowled from the time I was ten until I was twenty six. I ended up giving up bowling because bowling shoes and arthritis in the feet didn’t match up too well. It took me eight years to find something I could be actively compete in again. Prior to joining the church group, I had only thrown bags with friends and competed in one tournament that I was not at all competitive in. In August 2019, I played in a local tournament with my doubles partner and we were pretty competitive, which gave me hope that I could compete in more tournaments in the future.

I started watching the American Cornhole League in 2016 when in debuted on ESPN. I’ve watched almost every tournament that ESPN has aired and I’ve never been disappointed. The amount of skill, technique and strategy that goes into being among the best should not be overlooked or made light of. I the American Cornhole League in the same regard as the Professional Bowlers Association, which I’ve been a fan since I was a kid. They both have some unique personalities, electric crowds and a die-hard following. The great thing about cornhole is that anyone can learn how to play and be competitive. Even though ESPN received initial criticism for airing cornhole on the network, I the sport should inspire people. There are many out there like myself who couldn’t play baseball, basketball, football or other physical contact sports due to health reasons. Between taking up cornhole initially as a hobby and watching it on TV the last three years, it lead up to the great experience that happened this past weekend.

This past weekend, I competed in an ACL Tournament. Even though it was not televised nationally, it was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had. I competed in an ACL Great Lakes Regional Conference Tournament that covers Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Wisconsin. Although I stuggled in the tournament, I learned some very valuable lessons that I can build on towards the future. The atmosphere of an ACL Tournament is a lot of fun and very laid back. The two opponents I threw against were super nice and it made it feel like a family atmosphere. I love how the cornhole community is very supportive and encouraging of each other. Everyone wants their fellow competitor to do well and that’s not something you see in every sport. This was my first ACL tournament, but I assure you that it won’t be my last. I know I have a lot of work to do in order to get better and be more competitive. I am very lucky to have a great group of friends that I can throw with on a weekly basis. They are supportive, encourage and helpful when it comes to wanting to get better. ACL’s motto is “Anyone Can Play. Anyone Can Win.” I am firm a believer in that and if you’re looking a sport to compete in then look no further. There are close to 10,000 registered cornhole throwers that have played in an ACL Tournament within the last year. Cornhole is growing at a rapid pace and from what I’ve seen, it’s only going to get bigger.

Editors Note: I’d like to thank my friends in the Men’s Cornhole Group at Cornerstone Church. Scott, Keith, Curt, Jamie and Ryan- Thank you for your support, encouragement and helping me better my game.

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