As we lead up to the biggest cornhole event to ever hit Arizona. a feeling of nostalgia came over me as I rummaged through four and a half years of event photos from our time organizing and directing tournaments (see images below).
When we started KB Kornhole Games back in 2015 we had no idea where this side hobby would take us. Hell, we started in the garage mass producing cornhole sets—Well, only 10 sets but that was enormous for us. Fortunately, we found out that we were much better running events than making equipment.
About six months into running events, Doug Zafft sent me a message with a link to iplaycornhole.com and asked me to look into it. We were so new to directing tournaments that the idea of linking up with a national organization was really intimidating. But, despite my inexperience, one thing that I had quickly learned was that Doug is a highly respected part of the cornhole community and someone who I should listen to. His main point resonates with me to this day. He said, [paraphrasing] “Joining the ACL allows us to be part of something bigger”. So, I explored ACL’s site, contacted ACL Commissioner Stacey Moore and found that his philosophy to the game was something that I could buy-in to because it allowed players at all levels to the opportunity to experience success.
Since incorporating the ACL structure, the growth of this sport in Arizona has been nothing short of amazing over the past four years and even more so in the past few years since the ACL started broadcasting cornhole events on ESPN. The visibility of the sport on national TV has had a Tiger-Woods-Effect that has helped bump participation at every level of competition. Not a week goes by when someone doesn't approach us and say something along the lines of "I saw cornhole on ESPN and then Googled cornhole in Arizona". There’s no denying the ACL’s role in this growth.
Now, you have the chance to earn a spot on an ESPN broadcast. Let me say that again…you could be relaxing and practicing at the QuartHaus on Thursday and then attempting airmails in an ESPN pressure cooker match a day later. Who would’ve envisioned that just a short time ago.
When it comes to National events, there are only a handful each year and the western part of the country typically only gets a single shot per year to host one of these premiere events. The infrastructure needed to run a national combined with the exploding number of players who attend make it challenging to find the perfect spot but with the passion and support Arizona Players have shown to the the sport and the ACL over the years, I knew that I had a responsibility to advocate for an event like this to come to our backyard.
For many of you, this will be your first and maybe only chance to attend a national event (hopefully that’s not the case). You will undoubtedly be nervous throwing against players from all over the county. That’s okay! Acknowledge it, understand it, and learn from it because you’ll grow from the experience. There’s no way to replicate this sort of cornhole stress other than to compete on the highest stage. You’ll be mentally stronger (in your cornhole game) from the the competition and when you go compete in local and regional events, it won’t seem as daunting. A few of you may even have deep runs and get your opportunity for some air time.
For those with national experience, you know what to expect. You’ve invested significant resources, both in time and money, to travel around the country to compete. Having this event in our home state is my token of appreciation for the dedication you’ve shown to the sport. I can only imagine that you want to put on a show and demonstrate to the country that Arizona can throw bags with the best of them.
For all, this is a great opportunity to meet new players from around the country. There are so many intriguing players and cornhole groups and they are coming to your house. Introduce yourself, strike up a conversation and continue to build the “cornhole family”.
In whichever division you are competing, we’ll be rooting for you. We know that each player will represent Arizona well. For me personally, I’m glad I was able to play a part in bringing this event, the biggest one Arizona has ever hosted, to the desert.
I’ll end with this…make every effort to experience the broadcast on Friday and Saturday nights (hopefully we’ll have a few of our players in those matches). You won’t be disappointed. Aside from getting the chance to win the $500 Pitch for Cash just for sitting in the stands, it’s fun to watch it on ESPN days after and say “I was there”. It’s an intimate setting where you can hear Trey analyze each shot, Evan commentate his perspective, Stormy conduct her sideline interviews and Bernie getting the crowd going with his Airmail chant. This will be the eighth broadcast that I have been part of and it’s still exciting! I often think back to where we started and how far it’s come in such a short amount of time.
While this is a national event, I see the Bag Brawl more as a celebration of the sport for our area. Soak in the experience, Arizona players. You’ve earned this one!
Enjoy the pictures that we've pulled from our archives showing the various events that we've run over the years! (They are in no particular order.)
Click through the archives to see the past winners of our tournaments.