The next players to be showcased in our Player Spotlight series is a father-son team, Brian and Zach Brewer. Founders of Cobra Kai Cornhole, Brian and Zach started throwing bags years ago at their cousin Jacki's cabin in Pinetop. The two have played in a few charity/fundraiser tournaments in the past but just recently got serious about the game over the last 6-8 months.
Brian was introduced to the game by his cousin after he played bags while tailgating at a Chicago Bears game. His cousin bought a starter set, or as Brian calls it a "retrospectively horrible set of boards and bags", that helped them get excited about the game. From there, Brian and his friend Jay decided to build a couple sets of boards and bought a few sets of good corn filled bags that they would use during the summers up north.
Like many players, Brian and Zach felt that they were pretty good players until they competed in a charity tournament with some of the top players in the area. It's then that they learned how serious the game can get. After one of the tournaments, Brian talked to one of the advanced players who encouraged him to keep at it. Now, instead of playing a few times per month, the duo is playing 4-5 times a week.
Initially, Zach thought Brian and his friends were crazy when they started practicing several times per week. Zach also laughed when the group named themselves Cobra Kai Cornhole and sported t-shirts with their new logo. But, gradually Zach became a fixture in their nightly practice sessions at "The Dojo" (their backyard) and can be seen at tournaments with his very own Cobra Kai Cornhole t-shirt and his supportive girlfriend Trinity, who has also become interested in playing.
After practicing for several weeks, Team Brewer and four other Cobra Kai teams signed up for a competitive tournament 6-7 months ago. They won very few games but got a chance to meet and play against some of the top players in the state. At this tournament they discovered pro-style bags & skinny boards. They were hooked!
Being so new to the competitive scene, Brian and Zach's main objective right now is to get their bags "straight and flat". They practice frequently on a set of skinny boards (1' wide), which will let them know immediately if their bags are staying straight and flat. From there, they see the importance of working missed bags to the hole. Finally, while airmails are usually the last thing that comes for the advanced player, tackling that part of the game is their next step. They know airmails and consistency is the difference between intermediate and advanced players.
In a relatively short amount of time, Zach and Brian have had a few solid finishes in tournaments. In the intermediate division of the East/West Challenge, the pair took 5th place out of 28 teams. This past Saturday, they finished 3rd place out of 18 teams at Founder's Day Battle of the Bags. Brian is currently the #1 Intermediate player in the East Valley Cornhole league on Mondays at The Draft. The pair will build on their recent success as the travel to Las Vegas to compete in the Wild West Shootout this weekend.
Brian and Zach have big goals for the upcoming season. In the short term, they want to win a intermediate regional tournament. After that, they are hoping to make a little bit of noise by the time the next summer rolls around with the 2018 Arizona State Cornhole Championships, Surf Rodeo and The Throw Down.
Zach, a senior at a local High School, plans to follow in his sister's footsteps by attending NAU next fall. He was selected as a "spotlight senior" and will have a full page about him in the yearbook where his new passion for cornhole will be prominently displayed on the page.
Brian travels the country frequently for work. With his new passion for cornhole he seeks out new places to play in different states. He will continue to look for these opportunities when possible.
The duo has enjoyed the competitiveness of cornhole over the past few months. Playing together has taken it to another level. At first, the two were worried about playing together because they didn't want to let the other person down. But, they have found that competing together has made them closer. Brian and Zach look forward to continuing this journey as a father-son force for years to come.
Player Spotlight: Larry Hudson
The next player to be showcased in our Player Spotlight series is Larry Hudson. Throwing bags for about 5 years now, Larry started playing the game with family and friends at Salty Senorita’s bar. Now he's a staple at most big events around the valley typically playing in his trademarked cowboy boots.
Considered one of the top players in the state, Larry has won several regional doubles events with various partners. His biggest cornhole accomplishment was being the first Arizona player to win the singles event at the Wild West Shootout. Larry’s long term goal would be to one day win the ACL COBS event. Having attended the event in 2016, Larry knows the commitment that it takes to compete at that level and he recommends the experience to all players.
Larry was born and raised in Arizona. He’s been married to the “best wife ever” for over 40 years now. He loves horses, fishing and muscle cars. For a career Larry owns The Hudson Auction House in Youngtown where people come from all over to bid on a large number of items each Friday night. He also carves out time each day at his auction house to get a little practice in where his main focus is keeping the bags in front of the hole on a consistent basis.
Like many cornhole players, Larry has really enjoyed the great people he’s met playing the game. He loves seeing how the game has grown in the Phoenix area and across the country. He has one bit of advice for the experienced players…
“Let’s all try to help the new guys and gals get better and have fun!”
Great advice from a champion and a true class act in the game!
Player Spotlight: Kelli Stevenson
The next player to be showcased in our Player Spotlight series is Kelli Stevenson. One of the top women players on the west coast, Kelli has finished as high as 2nd place in two high profile events in women's single - 2017 Wild West Shootout and ACL Vegas National 2017. Kelli also knocked the current Queen of Cornhole - Christine Papcke - into the loser's bracket during the ACL Vegas National event.
Kelli started shooting bags in 2007 back in Ohio with a couple of friends. Traveling up and down the west coast for work she doesn't have much time to practice these days, but when competition time comes, she instinctively falls back into her consistent approach of slowing the game down and taking deep breathes before firing away.
Kelli has traveled regionally to big events and hopes to travel to more competitions this season. A competitor by nature, Kelli has some great up and coming female competition in the area to keep her moving forward. She hopes these challenges will help her reach her ultimate goal of becoming the #1 ranked woman player in the country. Kelli will be competing in the Women's Singles division at the Wild West Shootout at the end of this month.
When asked if she wanted to add anything personal, Kelli proclaimed "I love all my new cornhole family that i have met since i moved to Arizona. They are the best and welcomed me with open arms. I couldn't have ask for a better group of people.
Player Spotlight: Michael Molina
The next player to be showcased in our Player Spotlight series is Michael Molina. Playing competitively for about two years now, Michael has risen to one of the top players in the state, finishing 2nd place in the 2017 Arizona State Cornhole Championships.
Michael, who also throws horseshoes competitively, started playing cornhole with the Get Some crew. He is now a regular, playing competitively 3-4 times per week. Along with his 2nd place finish at the state championships, Michael has won some doubles and singles tournaments in Arizona and California. Recently, he won his first ACL Regional Singles tournament, beating out a field of 58 other players.
Michael's long term goal is to compete and finish in the top 5 against the top players in the country at the Championship of Bags (COBS). To achieve that goal, Michael knows he needs a consistent airmail game. He practices constantly on that part of his game. He even has someone stand in front of the board, throwing over them while trying to hit as many airmails as he can.
It will be fun to continue to watch Michael's game grow as he aims for the Arizona Player of the Year during the 2017-18 season.
Player Spotlight: Angie Hallmark
The next player to be featured in our Player Spotlight series is Angie Hallmark. Although Angie's first event with us was at the 2016 Arizona State Cornhole Championships, she's only been playing seriously for about 7 months now.
As one of the newer consistent players in the area, Angie's story is similar to many players...she started out playing as something fun to do but it quickly turned into a fun competition where she gets to meet great people each week. Until now, she's been playing 2-3 times per week in local events but she just recently traveled to her first tournament competing in the 192 team Throw Down tournament in Ventura, CA. Later this month, she'll be competing at the Wild West Shootout in Vegas as part of Team Arizona.
When she's not spinning bags, Angie likes to travel and camp. She's super outgoing with an infectious laugh...something she says is the best part of life!
Angie has improved considerably since she first started competing. She recently won the Novice champion in a Monday night league and finished 2nd place in a fundraiser tournament last fall in a field of almost 100 teams. She tries to stay relaxed and focuses on her follow through in order to keep her throw consistent and down the middle. She acknowledged that repeating the same throw and follow through over and over is the biggest factor in improving her game.
Angie's goals are to continue to improve so that she can work towards winning singles and doubles events at the highest level. Until then, she has a simple message for any new player: "Don't give up! It takes work to become better. Everyone has a bad game [but] keep at it!"
Player Spotlight: Matthew Carey
The next player to be featured in our Player Spotlight series is Matthew Carey. Matthew is a relatively new player to the Arizona cornhole circuit. Although he's been shooting bags for about 4 years, he's just started playing competitively about a year ago. Matthew just recently notched his first regional victory by winning the intermediate doubles division with his partner, Bryan. That win will surely boost his confidence as he prepares to compete in his first out of state event - the Wild West Shootout - next month in Las Vegas.
Along with his most recent victory, Matthew finished 9th in the Open Singles division this past June at the 2017 Arizona State Cornhole Championships. This year, he's hoping to improve upon that finish and to break into the Top 10 in Arizona's season-long rankings. One day, he plans to play on the big stage at the Championship of Bags (COBS) in North Carolina.
Matthew got his start playing bags when his roommate brought home a set of boards. The group would play against each other late in to the night at parties. From there, he started playing weekly blind draws at The Hub where he gets to compete against some of the top players around. While competing, Matthew likes to ask the veteran players how they might approach a certain shot in a given scenario. He'll then go back and recreate those shots when practicing in his backyard.
Matthew can also claim the title of professional golfer; technically, he says. Matthew studied Professional Golf Course Management at ASU. Part of the program required him to pass a playing ability test, which he did.
It's clear that Matthew loves playing the cornhole, especially now that his wife is so involved with the game. He loves the atmosphere around the cornhole community and comments how the other players "treat [me] like family" and that everything is done "with the intention of teaching and growing the game".
Player Spotlight: Bill Hadley
The next player to be featured in our new Player Spotlight series is Bill "Bagnbill" Hadley. Bill was the inaugural Arizona State Singles Champion winning in 2016. This past season, Bill was named the Arizona Player of the Year with the most points earned throughout the 2016-2017 season, despite not being able to play in the 2017 Arizona State Championhips.
Bill, who is originally from Chicago, has been playing bags for eight years, although he didn't compete in his first tournament until moving to Arizona. His story of getting started is a common one - playing bags with friends while have a few drinks. Before cornhole, Bill competed as a 50% thrower in the World Horseshoe tournaments in Columbus, OH, Spear Fish, SD and Syracuse, NY.
Along with owning the title of 2016 Arizona State Singles Champion, Bill has racked up several big wins including the 2016 Wild West Shootout Singles Tournament, The 2015 Conrhole Cup Doubles Tournament, the 2015 Cornhole Bowl Doubles Tournament and a number of regional singles and doubles events.
Bill welcomes the competition of the game and he points to his hatred of losing as the driving force behind getting better and better each day. He also enjoys the social side of the game stating that "I have met a lot of great people and made many friends from playing bags".
Bill's long term goals include getting better, meeting new players and getting his son who just moved here, more involved so that they can partner up.
Player Spotlight: Drea Flores
Our first player to be featured in our new Player Spotlight series is Andrea "Drea" Flores, the 2017 Arizona State Women's Cornhole Champion. Playing for only 11 months (at the time of this publication), Drea has already made her name as one of the top players, male or female, in the state and the entire southwest.
Like many baggers, Drea started playing cornhole with family and friends in the backyard. As she continued to get better, she jumped into the competitive circuit, participating in her first organized tournament in September 2016. She attributes that first tournament as the day she became "addicted to the game".
How did Drea get so good so fast? She stresses that although practicing helps her physically improve her game, she says the mental part of her game - staying focused, taking her time and relaxing when throwing, and just having an overall confidence in her abilities - plays a major role in her success. She also emphasizes that she wouldn't be where she is today without the help of the cornhole community, especially her biggest support and Team Bling doubles partner - Jermaine "Bling" Cromwell.
Drea lives by the philosophy that "to be the best, you have to play the best". She continues to improve by playing top Arizona players and also by traveling to high profile events where she can compete in high stakes events. In her short career, she can claim the title as the 2017 Arizona State Women's Singles Champion, 2017 Best in the West Women's Single Champion, runner up in the 2017 Surf Rodeo Big Dog Tournament and 4th place in the ACL Vegas National Crew Cup, an event that featured players from all over the country.
Drea isn't settled with her current level. She looks forward to the continued challenge of playing in weekly blind draws and leagues with her sights set on COBS 2018 where she hopes to compete for the women's national title on national TV.
This page has been created to help you learn a little bit about Arizona cornhole players.
All Angie Hallmark Bill Hadley Brian & Jack Brewer Drea Flores Kelli Stevenson Matthew Carey