A Holesome Sport

Spring 2020 is unlike any time we have ever known. At press time, we cannot predict what will happen with town events, including the annual Cornhole League season at Mill River Park. But that does not mean we can’t play at home, so we are sharing an overview of the game to get you into the swing of things.

Some of you may want to play as quaint as the origins of cornhole—that is, thinking it’s “just a game” in which players toss a beanbag onto a slanted ramp. Others though may think much more of it. With Stamford’s Cornhole League (millriverpark.org), for example, the competition typically runs from spring to fall and is governed by the rules and regulations of the American Cornhole Organization. League players toss the beanbags in Mill River Park, taking their best shot, time and time again, as they strive to win the bragging rights of Cornhole Champions. It takes just two registered players to start (register online), and new teammates can join later.

For each showdown, the teams take on two other teams in two rounds of play for best in three games. Two players from the team may go at a time and must start and finish the game, but new players can join in the next round. Subs are welcome to step forward and help when registered team members can’t make a game. The teams usually must commit to a six-week program; if a team misses two consecutive weeks, they’re out and a waitlisted team is added in its place. New ones sometimes join in, but returning teams have the advantage of a forty-eight hour “priority” window to register before registration is opened to the public. Joining early offers perks in the following season.

The fields, rink and events, including the cornhole league, is under the Mill River Park Collaborative (MRPC), a nonprofit, which relies on private donors, members and the City of Stamford. So, it’s expected that people will show up for the game, then stay for the food and drink. On game nights, you can buy beer from Half Full Brewery and snacks/meals from the Rich Pantry. Trent McCann, education and public programs manager at MRPC, says his favorite part is “the camaraderie.” Every year about two-thirds of the teams have played previously and it’s like a big block party or family BBQ. The league is just a lot of fun. It’s simple, it’s a great way to make friends and get outside on a weeknight.

MILL RIVER PARK NOTE
At press time, the park was open, with social distancing. See more at millriverpark.org.

Trent McCann, education and public programs manager at Mill River Park – Photo by Millriver Park

 

SERIOUS BAGGAGE!

THE BAGS

Corn Kernels: 100 plus
Weight: 14-16 ounces

An official ACO cornhole bag is 6 inches by 6 inches, made with durable 10-ounce duck cloth and traditionally filled with corn feed but now are often filled with plastic resin.

If you want to bring your own bags, head to americancornhole.com/bring-your-own-weapon for a list of bag manufacturers.


PITCH PERSONALITY
While you have to pitch the bag underhand, we don’t know of any rule that restricts putting your own spin on it. Here’s a few signature styles the Stamford magazine team has tested to varying degrees of success.

The Stress Monster
The one-too-many workdays death squeeze on the bag and a flash release of the bag that leaves the results to “whatever.”

The UFO
A whip release sends the bag off in a steady spin, flat to the ground, during the arch.

Left-Handed Over and Up
For the technique contrarian, this toss sends the bag in a soaring arch with nearly zero rotation.

 

BOARD APPROVED

Photo by ©coachwood – stock.adobe.com

THE SURFACE
Serious about your game? Then know that the playing surface should be finishe1d—sanded to a very smooth texture with no blemishes in the wood surface that may disrupt or distort play. It can be painted with a high-gloss latex paint or varnish. The surface should allow bags to slide when thrown but not be so slippery that the bags slide back down the platform.

THE HOLE
Must be six inches in diameter, centered nine inches from the top and twelve inches from each side.

FRONT HEIGHT
The board is three to four inches from ground to playing surface.

BACK HEIGHT
The board is twelve inches from the ground to the top of the playing surface.

 

NAME YOUR TEAM

A selection of local team names, from clever to cheeky.

PG
The Sandbaggers
Breaking Bags
Lord of the Boards
The Fun Bags
Springdale Southpaws

R
Shut Yer Cornhole

X
The Corn Stars
Amateur Corn Stars
Hardcore Corn

 

HALL of FAME

Choosing a team name is high priority—though some do push the limit. MRPC approve the names. “We have only ever said no to one team name,” says Trent McCann. “There are a couple of names that are a little risque but are cornhole-specific enough that we let it slide.” He adds that the organization itself sometimes joins in. “If there’s enough interest, we have a staff team: the Mill River Muskrats,” he says. “We’re not very good.” Below are the names of the champions from the past few years.

Michael Caminiti and Ben Mickelson of the five-time winning champs Lords of the Boards – Photo by Ben Mickelson

Lord of the Boards
fall and spring 2019
fall and spring 2017
fall 2016

Springdale Southpaws
fall 2018

The Fun Bags
spring 2018

 

THE PITCH

Never in your life will you think so much about how you throw a beanbag. Trent McCann says the secret is:
“Consistency. Not that I’m very good at it, but the players who are really dominant are repeating the exact same motion over and over again.” If you do nothing else, keep these ACO basics in mind as you approach your turn.

1 Keep at least one foot inside the pitcher’s box when you toss.

2 Pitch before time’s up (15 seconds).

3 Throw your bag from your designated pitcher’s box.

4 Make sure your bag does not hit the court or ground, even if it lands on the board.

5 In fact, make sure your bag is fully on the board, not touching the ground.

6 Make a clean toss—your bag shouldn’t hit anything on the way to the board.

7 Pitch underhand— don’t get fancy, people.

8 Once you take that forward swing, release the bag. If you mistakenly drop it, it counts.

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