Cornhole quickly catching on at Charlestown

Catonsville community hosts first-time cornhole tournament

Created date

July 17th, 2019
The members of the Charlestown Cornhole league pose with their trophy and the cornhole boards designed by team member and resident Mary Wright.

Charlestown came in first place against sister Erickson Living community Oak Crest at the first cornhole tournament this May. Charlestown resident Mary Wright designed the community’s personalized cornhole boards.

Once reserved for tailgating and backyard barbeques, cornhole (or depending upon where you’re from—bean bag toss, bags, or corn toss) is quickly catching on as one of America’s favorite pastimes. 

To casual onlookers, the game, which consists of tossing a bean bag through a hole on a tilted piece of plywood, is simple. But for Mary Wright, it’s a competitive game that requires patience, precision, and practice to hit the mark every time. Mary leads Charlestown’s cornhole league, a group of Charlestown community members who meet twice a week to play the game. 

“I have been playing cornhole for about 12 years,” says Mary. “I started playing with my family at cookouts and family gatherings. Then my nephews and I made our own cornhole boards, and it just grew from there.”

Mary moved to the Catonsville, Md., Erickson Living community in March 2017. The following year she participated in Fruits of Our Labor, a communitywide event showcasing many of Charlestown’s 300-plus clubs and groups.

“I had a cornhole board set up where people could try it and see if it was something they liked. There was a sign-up sheet for people who were interested,” says Mary. “Not long after, we formed the league and started playing once a week indoors. Once the weather warmed up, we moved outside. We have about 20 people who play regularly, and new people are joining all the time. It’s open to all Charlestown residents. If you don’t know how to play, we’ll teach you.” 

Social sport

Richard Griffith has been playing cornhole off and on over the last five years. He moved to Charlestown nine months ago from Howard County and started playing cornhole shortly after. 

“I really enjoy it. When the game is close it’s exhilarating to score points,” he says. “And it doesn’t take a lot of athletic ability to play. It’s also a very social sport. You get the chance to meet new people and have a conversation. You discover people you have things in common with.” 

Don Krebs was a newcomer to the game, having played just once before moving to Charlestown. 

“I joined as soon as the group formed,” says Don, who moved from Columbia, Md., a year ago. “I used to bowl duckpins; the motion is almost identical to throwing beanbags, so I was able to pick it up right away.” 

Charlestown community members aren’t the only ones who have taken an interest in cornhole. Each month, thousands of cornhole professionals around the country compete for prizes for upwards of $1 million. 

Two national bodies—the American Cornhole Organization and the American Cornhole League—govern the sport. The American Cornhole Association has a new app that allows you to “create, find, and share tournaments and events all over the nation.”

Cornhole is even featured on ESPN2’s The Ocho, a one-day event for alternative sports that covers everything from dodgeball to darts, as well as a Johnsonville Brat-Eating World Championship. 

Charlestown Fitness Manager Teresa Reymann-Curran attributes cornhole’s popularity to the fact that it’s fun, anyone can play, and it’s also a great way to socialize. 

“Cornhole has become a very popular sport in colleges and on television. People research what the perfect throw should look like and the best way to hold the bag in your hand. Our residents are incredible when displaying the perfect throw,” says Reymann-Curran.  

“Cornhole is easy to learn and play and similar in some ways to playing horseshoes,” she continues. “Its team-oriented nature makes it a great way for residents to enjoy staying active while socializing with neighbors—it’s a win-win!” 

Cornhole is also a good low-impact exercise.

“Cornhole requires hand-eye coordination and physical [arms, legs, core, and back] and mental stamina [getting into a rhythm with your throw practice] to consistently throw that perfect throw,” Reymann-Curran adds. 

‘Cornament’

In May, Charlestown hosted the first-ever cornhole tournament with sister Erickson Living community Oak Crest in Parkville.  

Four teams of two represented each community. Each team played four rounds (two games each round) of cornhole. Charlestown won the tournament with 28 of 36 possible wins. 

“Everyone’s hard work practicing ahead of the tournament paid off,” says Mary. “Not only did we play well, but we had a lot of fun enjoying the beautiful weather and getting to know new friends from Oak Crest who share our love for this game.”

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