Tuesday, April 30, 2024

Why I Play Competitive Cornhole?

Yes, there is competitive cornhole? From the unusual sports out there of face slapping to disk golf to the more common games like dodge-ball and chase tag.  Cornhole as we know it is growing and if you are not aware, the American Cornhole League, has their National Finals broadcast on ESPN and CBS Sports.  Yes, it is a fun back yard game turned pro with the ACL and in my state of Connecticut there are multiple clubs for anyone to play socially or competitively almost every day of the week.  So why did I get into it? 

I needed to find a something to do outside of work and home.  I wanted to play softball but I wanted something to do indoors during the winter season and I needed knee surgery so I knew I could not do that.  I tried playing chess, and still do online via Lichess.org, but it can feel like a library at the chess club and I wanted something a bit more social and fun.  Then one day, at my local Costco store, I saw a cornhole set with "premium" boards and bought them for myself on father's day (2022) and fell in love with the game since.

Throughout that summer, whenever I could, I would setup the boards on the tennis courts at my apartment complex and throw for about an hour while the kids road their bikes, scooters and chalked up the court with kids art.  One day while I was throwing bags, a neighbor asked if he could join me in a friendly game. We played with these lower quality bags and decent boards but throughout the game I was not winning at all.  Actually, I lost fairly quickly but through conversation he introduced me to a cornhole club in town and explained how they run switcholios.  He then told me about an app called Scoreholio and showed me how to register and search for a switcholio tournament.

So I gave it a try and went to the local club and got hooked.  People had jerseys, music, drinks, premium cornhole bags, and a chance to win your money back and more.  I would never forget my first time going to a switcholio.  I was nervous but nevertheless excited to go throw bags at Naugatuck Valley Cornhole.  When I could not get the bag in the hole or even on the board it was frustrating.  I wanted to get better and did not like the fact that I could not keep a bag on the board.  After that day I quickly returned the cornhole set I got at Costco and bought my first Reynolds Pro Advantage bags and a more premium set of Cornhole Solutions boards.  At the end of that switcholio I was already looking forward to the next one. As a beginner, at that time, I was not great but I found out that this game helped me to disconnect from the world for a few hours.

Two Roads Tournament in Stratford Connecticut June 2023
I continued to play cornhole because it was hard for me to process my mother being in a nursing home and having to go to Florida to admit her for the first time was the hardest thing I had to do in my life.  I felt like I let my mother down because my brother and I could not care for her in our homes like we would have wanted to.   Having two young children and having my mother as a wanderer was not safe for anyone.  While she was in Florida I could not sleep, eat, and went into a depression because I would think about my mom constantly. I would think about her care and how my brother and I were going to bring her back to Connecticut.  Every nursing home I called in Connecticut either did not have an available bed, did not accept state assisted services or had a several years long waiting list.  Even the less expensive nursing homes can cost at least three hundred dollars a day!  But I kept searching, calling and visiting every nursing home I could.  One of my aunts, in Florida, did as much as she could to care for my mother and it is not easy to care for someone in this condition, especially if they are super combative.  At one time I thought my mom would have to stay in Florida and that is when I went into a deeper depression.  But I kept at it and prayed more to God for help.  Thankfully we were able to find a skilled nursing that could help care for my mother.

Visiting my mom at the nursing home shortly after were able to bring her back to Connecticut

In all I thank God for allowing me the opportunity to experience this game and the community of players we have in Connecticut.  I have met a ton of nice people who love the game just as I do.  Unfortunately I could not play as often as I would like to because of family and work responsibilities but I still enjoy it more every day.  It helps me to connect and disconnect.  If you are like me who has a parent with Alzheimer's disease, know that you are are not alone.  There are people out there willing to help and your scenerio will get better.  It will not be easy to find a place for your loved one but keep at it, educate yourself and talk to your local social worker.  Last, if you are still struggling mentally call your health insurance company to find a mental health coach to talk to.  I really learned a lot about myself during my sessions with my mental health coach. 
Things will get better for you!
As some say in the cornhole world, keep it straight and keep throwing four baggers. 

Cornhole clubs in Connecticut

203 Cornhole
Battle Baggers
Candlewood Cornhole
Central Connecticut Cornhole
Coastal Connecticut Cornhole
Connecticut Cornhole
Cornhole by The Sound
Naugatuck Valley Cornhole