Saturday, September 5, 2020

TCL Season 11: Next Stop - College Station Texas....Aaaaaalll Aboard!!

Texas Cornhole League concluded it's 10th season with a record setting Conference Tournament this past July in Denton. Considering how the season was affected by the nationwide pandemic which forced several events to be cancelled, TCL still experienced incredible growth. This growth is evident at every event as there continues to be new players who step up and throw some serious heat. They just keep coming folks and so does another TCL season as Bryan/College Station and the Brazos County Expo will host Season XI's first TCL Signature Series event this September 11-12. Jump on board y'all, this train is rollin' and it's going to be bigger and better than ever!

In 1860 the Houston and Texas Central Railway began to build through the region and coincidentally, 11 years later the site was chosen as the location for a proposed Agriculture and Mechanical College of Texas. In 1876 as our nation celebrated its centennial, the school opened its doors as the first public institution of higher education in Texas. In 1963 it was renamed Texas A&M University and through the years many traditions have evolved. One being the Aggie bonfire which was held each year as part of the football rivalry with the University of Texas. It was halted following a collapse in 1999 killing 12 and injuring 27 and has since been restarted off campus. Another tradition is the legendary Dixie Chicken. Opened in 1974, the bar is directly across the campus in a old rugged wood structure best known for its cold beer, old country music, perpetual ice in the pee troughs and Tijuana Fries! The bar had its roof collapse this past spring and the joints pet rattlesnake, known as "Sneaky Snake" is doing well despite reports it had escaped during the collapse...yikes!

As with any type of growth you sometimes have to make changes and with the sport making huge strides in popularity, TCL has made some changes for the upcoming season. One such change involves the schedule for play for the Signature events. Typically these events draw large numbers of players and usually take longer to run requiring some really late nights! To help with this issue, the start time for Singles on Friday has been moved up to 1:00 instead of 5:30. TCL and it's crew run very efficient events so this should help solve the late night issues!

The addition of Super Regional Events is also something new. TCL is including this year with the intent to provide players an opportunity to compete against the best players within their conference. Winning one of these babies will garner the winner 300 points for first place which can be vital to those battling for a spot in the Top 60.

TCL is also looking into adding a 5th Signature event which will not only add more opportunity for points but will also increase the overall yearly payout! This is gonna be good y'all! The TCL League Championship scheduled for July 2021 will have no less than $25,000 in total payouts. With all these events and all that cash, it's no wonder so many people are wanting to play TCL! 

I had mentioned that there were many new up and coming players who are making noise all across the state. I got some feedback from a few Regional Directors and wanted to mention some players who are looking to make a splash this season. Northeast Texas Cornhole led by Will Davis has several players who are really playing well including Matt Ball and JR Reyes, both being recently added "B" players. Seth Roberts and Cayle Watson in Social and Steven Helm in Competitive have also been filling it up. 

North Texas Cornhole also has some impressive players according to Director Taylor Stone. "C" players John Garnica, Jr., John Garnica, Sr, Chuck Cordell, Michael Gomez and Trey Sparks all have shown improvement here recently.

Other players who are coming on include Lane McManus from Ray Roberts, Jon White from Dallas and Neal Cook who plays with the group from 360. Angel Cruz, another player from Dallas has been posing for pictures standing next to a board holding wads of cash a lot here of late which only means this cat has been doing some winning. Young gun Austin McQuistion, who recently got moved to a "B" player has been slinging several 12's lately as well. Dallas Director Rob Ochoa has it going on folks! All the players mentioned have really stepped up their games and should be moving on up soon. I will include more names of up and coming players in each of my blogs so if I didn't give you a mention, keep strummin' and I'll get ya some ink soon!

The grates have been shaken, the dead ash has been evacuated, the fireboxes are loaded with Anthracite and this locomotive is smoking as it barrels towards Bryan/College Station.  It's going to be a good one y'all so get on board and get ready for a great weekend of cornhole! Next stop..Bryan/College Station!!

Keep slingin' em' y'all!

Sunday, June 28, 2020

TCL Signature 3 Recap "One for the Ages"

Back in December of 2019, Texas Cornhole League held their 2nd Signature Event in Tyler, TX. In January they held the Ryder Cup in Denton. That was the last we knew of "normal" with TCL Cornhole. In April, Signature 3 was supposed to be held in Bryan College Station... however Corona hijacked that event! With everything being cancelled and shut down, the TCL brass worked tirelessly trying to secure a venue eventually landing the Cinnamon Creek Ranch Venue and put on a record setting 3rd Signature Event. Of all the Events I've attended in the past 5 years, this one was by far the most challenging. With the growth and popularity of the sport, many more people attended this tournament to the tune of nearly 350 players. Trying to accommodate this many players with space for only 28 sets of boards provided an ultimate challenge. Things got going Friday and even though things were crowded and hectic, games were being played and brackets were moving along! Then a good little Texas sized storm blew in wreaking havoc on the electricity. Lights flickered, power surged and eventually some lights were knocked out completely. With this many people in the building, losing A/C was borderline catastrophic! Just when you thought you had enough deodorant, things started getting a little sticky, including the boards. I know many folks were working up a sweat just watching games, poor Chris Gardner was a hot sweaty mess! With all the issues and challenges, everyone kept playing and eventually all the games that were to be played were played!

By now it was going on around 3 AM and most people had called it a night. Chad and his crew stayed until the power was restored and when everyone started arriving for the Singles Tier Bracket games around 9 AM, the building had cooled back down. This was the sign of what would be a awesome day of cornhole! Usually when I write about the results of a big event I try to list the names of the winners and highlight some memorable performances. This time I just want to write about some things that stood out to me.

It was absolutely awesome seeing everyone after the Corona induced layoff and everyone seemed to be on the same page. It was just good to see some of our friends along with some new faces back on the boards. There were the usual top level players like Josh Groce, A J Sims, Eddie Grinderslev, Brandon Greggor and Grant Upchurch to name a few. These guys are always in the mix with Groce and Sims winning the Open Doubles and Sims winning Open Singles. There was the Cartel with Ernest Herrera and Ernest Monarca finishing 4th in Open Doubles. The surprise of Open Doubles had to be Adam Utz and his fellow Dem Boys partner Blake DeLeon coming in 3rd which is pretty strong considering how stacked this field was. In the Competitive Division Eian Cripps and Jamie Sledge beat Dillon Turpin and Delmar Davis...I know..haven't heard those names before have ya! Jamie has been throwing really well lately and completed her weekend coming in 2nd place in Competitive ingles losing to Ryan Fillingim. Folks, the growth and popularity of cornhole is simply on another level right now.

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

2020 TCL Ryder Cup

Those that play or have played golf usually are familiar with the PGA's Ryder Cup. The United States fields a team of 12 players to play against 12 players from Europe. They play several matches in various formats with each team obtaining points for each match they win. The first team to reach 14 1/2 points wins the Cup! It's a pretty cool event as it promotes a team environment for players who usually compete individually. The camaraderie and pride these players display is awesome to watch as they come together and cheer each other on.

In Texas those associated with The Texas Cornhole League know the words "Ryder Cup" as something kind of the same, but not really the same! On January 24th and 25th TCL's 10th Annual Ryder Cup will be hosted by the Denton Convention Center. There are hundreds of players who have taken part in this event and for the newbies, come Sunday morning they won't know what hit them! This event is easily TCL's biggest event of the year, not so much in payouts but due to the amount of people who will be in attendance. Every year it has increased in the number of teams and this year the trend will continue. Last years Ryder Cup had 430 players making up 43 teams in various divisions and this year they are expecting over 60 teams. Over 600 players will be taking part in this years event making it TCL's largest attended event to date. It. Will. Be. Epic!

The TCL version of this event consists of 3 different events, Team 10, Singles and Doubles with players obtaining points for their team as they win games in these events. After all events have been played, points are tabulated and the team with the most points wins the cup!

Team 10 is easily the most stressful game as it has all 10 players, 5 on each end. Players each get 1 bag as they alternate throwing with the other team. Each bag is super important and when you have 19 players all staring at you, it can be a fairly pressure packed scenario for some players. 

Singles is a NCAA March Madness style tournament, win and advance, lose and your done. Players win points as they win and advance. Seems every year the competition in this event gets better and more challenging.

Doubles is a round robin style where each team has 5 doubles teams. The designated number 1 team will play all the number 1 teams in their division. Same for the number 2,3,4 and 5 teams. Strategy comes into play in this event as Captains determine how they will line their players up.

This will be my 6th Ryder Cup to play in with the first one being my first ever TCL event. I left that event blown away by the whole darn spectacle and how good everyone was. The next year I was able to play with the East Texas team led by Brad Jones in what many would say was one of the more exciting Ryder Cup events. I look forward to this event as it is the ultimate team cornhole event and with the "Our area is better than yours" mentality, it can get pretty competitive.

Organizing big tournaments are challenging enough but this event really requires exceptional effort. When you have this many teams and players it can be more work than most realize.This weekend if you get a moment, walk up to Chad, Jason, and Justin and thank them for their time they have invested to help make this event one we all enjoy. It is simply put, "An event like none other"!

Throw 'em straight y'all!!

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

TCL Mansfield Signature Series

When I think of the name Mansfield I think of a small town just south of Shreveport, LA where I was raised. Possibly the most recognizable person from Mansfield is former MLB Pitcher Vida Blue. Some of you youngsters may not be familiar with Vida but trust me, back in the day he could bring it!

Jayne Mansfield was a Motion Picture Actress in the 50's and 60's and I couldn't tell you much about her. Well I could but I choose to just move on to the next

Mansfield, TX is a suburban city not far from Arlington and as far as I'm concerned is most notable for a softball and baseball complex named Big League Dreams. BLD has several MLB replica fields but more importantly it has an indoor soccer pavilion. That is where my interest is because that is the location for this week's TCL's Signature Series Event.

Texas Cornhole League has fired up it's 10th season with many leagues and tournaments already in the books. This weekends event will be the first of four Signature tournaments held throughout the season and this one will be a good one folks!

Many of us took some time off from throwing bags following TCL's 9th Conference/State Tournament this past June in Abilene while others continued to work on their games and attended various events across the state. Each year the TCL experiences tremendous growth with new players catching the fever of the sport of cornhole. With this being the 10th season of cornhole for TCL, it appears to be more of the same with many leagues across Texas welcoming a slew of new players. I used to go to a tournament and feel like I knew most of the people there but not anymore. On top of all the new players, there are several very talented up and comers! One look at the current point standings validates this as there are many new names in the mix.

The usual top players like Brandon Gregor, Eddie Grinderslev, Daniel Vinson, Josh Groce and Stuart Foster, just to name a few will all be in Mansfield gunning for the top prize. There will also be several up and coming players who will have their eyes set on making their presence known. Some of those players are Grant Upchurch, Edgar Cardenas, Kaleb Batson and Blake Holly. All of these guys have been throwing very well and will definitely be forces to be reckoned with this coming weekend. There have also been some impressive performances from the ladies here of late as Jesusa Rodrigues, Brittney Arrington, Amy Valdez and Isabella Surprenant have been on fire. There are others who also are playing really well and I'm certain we will see them this weekend.

There will be many strong Doubles teams present with Groce and Batson, Gregor and Vinson and Grinderslev and Kenneth Johnston who are some of the bluebloods and usually finish near the top. Looking at the results from the State Tourney in June there are several teams who can make some noise including Mark Rubio and Eli Gonzalez and Peyton Welch and Tristan Janca who made great runs in Abilene and will also be tough to beat this week. Earnest Herrera and Grant Upchurch are teaming up for the first time and they will be a hard out for anyone.

There are so many others that have improved so much and will make this event extremely competitive. Each year the depth of talent just gets deeper and deeper and this year is no exception.

Like I mentioned earlier, this weekend will be awesome with many outstanding players in attendance. Safe travels everyone and we look forward to seeing you all soon!

Until next time, "throw 'em straight"!

Sunday, August 4, 2019

Player Spotlight - Daniel Vinson

When you think of legendary athletes born here in Texas there are a few names that may come to mind. Babe Didrikson Zaharias...wait...who? Sorry, I saw a documentary on her one time and she had some legendary accomplishments including winning two gold medals in the 1932 Olympics. She then went on to win 31 Professional Golf titles. Very impressive! Ok I'll mention some a little more obvious like Nolan Ryan and Earl Campbell. Ryan threw 7 no hitters and amassed 5,714 strikeouts in 27 seasons. That in and of itself is amazing! Campbell affectionately known as "The Tyler Rose" won the Heisman Trophy in 1977 while wearing the Burnt Orange for the University of Texas. Campbell  then went on to lead the NFL in rushing 3 times with the Houston Oilers and twice was named the NFL MVP.

If you have played cornhole the past few years with The Texas Cornhole League, you undoubtedly are aware of the legendary Daniel Vinson. Daniel has quite the impressive resume with TCL winning a State Title in Singles, Doubles and being the Player of the Year. Only one other player has matched that feat in the Open Division and that is Brandon Gregor, a TCL Legend as well. Vinson started his cornhole career at a tournament at O'Sheas and basically hit the floor running. In his very first time to play, O'Sheas had a bonus for making a Big Tex and maybe that bucket of beers was just the motivation Vinson needed! Daniel indeed won a bucket or two and the rest is history as he has been draining 12's ever since.

Before Vinson took up cornhole, he was an accomplished Horseshoe player being ranked as high as 3rd in the state. Daniel pitched shoes for about 15-20 years before changing his arsenal to bags. The 44 year old Kaufman resident has been playing for about 7 years and says one of his favorite memories was playing in his first Ryder Cup. Vinson who was a fairly new player at this time, hit a huge Big Tex to win a critical game to help his team grab second place behind a tough Roanoke squad. The first Ryder Cup that I attended Daniel was on the East Dallas team that won that event and would also add another Cup win this past January.

One of the things that Daniel said he had to overcome early on was his ability to throw airmails with confidence. In watching Vinson the past few years I've noticed he is very methodical in his approach and strategy. He will rarely rush a meaningful shot as he puts a lot of thought and analysis into his process. A calm looking player during the game Daniel doesn't often show emotion but don't let that fool you. He is super competitive and will throw out an occasional fist pump.

Like many of us, Daniel enjoys the camaraderie and hanging with friends during and away from events. He is a fun loving guy that is well liked and respected by his peers. I've seen him helping new players many times including myself when I was a new player. That's just how he is and TCL is very fortunate to have him around.

Best of luck to you Daniel as you continue to etch your name in the TCL history books as a true legend.

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Player Spotlight - Stuart Foster

I've been trying to remember the first time I saw or met Stuart Foster and I really can't nail down the exact moment. I'm pretty sure I heard him at my first Signature Event in Mesquite back in late Summer or early Fall of 2015 and I suppose my very first time to actually be around him was that same year when I joined the Forney League at the River Club. I eventually got to know him and man, what a player. Foster, who doesn't lack confidence is one of the top players in TCL and somewhat jokingly proclaims himself as "Number 1 in the world". Stuart is a fun loving guy when off the boards and when playing he would step on your throat in a heartbeat, demonstrating a massive competitive spirit.  A year or so ago several of us went to Las Vegas to play in one of the ACL National Events and all he did was walk through several really good players to make the Main Stage for a live feed. He was smack dab in the middle of his element as Foster lives for the big moments and thrives on playing against top players. Speaking of top players, did I mention that Foster finished this most recent season as TCL's Player of the Year, a feat he has pulled off 2 previous seasons. Next time you see him just call him "Three Time"!

The 42 year old has been playing for 7 years and the fact that he has won Player of the Year 3 of those 7 seasons is pretty awesome. Stuart told me recently that initially the hardest thing for him to overcome playing cornhole was the slide shot. I was a little confused and then he told me he used to throw only airmails which explains how he can be pretty deadly with his airmail game. He added that the Las Vegas experience making it to the Main Stage was probably his favorite cornhole memory. At this event he had been throwing TCL 450's throughout the tournament and had to change when he made the broadcast because both sides weren't the same color. I'm not saying he would've won his match against Ryan Windsor if he had those 450's but I would've loved to have seen him use them.

The Forney, Tx resident says he'd like to improve on his ability to maintain his focus and deal with fatigue better when making late runs in tournaments. I'm not so sure I would want to be someone who has to deal with the wrath of a focused Stuart Foster as he can get hot and when he does, look out. His spirited and animated displays of enthusiasm are sometimes fun to watch. A healthy Foster fist pump after a great shot is a fairly common occurrence when he gets fired up.

Congratulations Stuart on a great season.

Until next time, y'all throw 'em straight!

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Player Spotlight - Eddie Grinderslev

When I first started playing in Texas Cornhole League events, I soon became familiar with who the top players were. Mostly by having them crush me but nevertheless, I was finding out who they were. One of the top players that I met was a slender young guy named Eddie Grinderslev.  A few years ago, before each Texas Cornhole League Signature Event everyone had to throw a SCR which included 13 rounds of 4 bags. I got a glimpse of Eddie's score sheet and I was blown away. He had no rounds of less than a 10 and at that point I knew this guy was special.

The 28 year old Grinderslev grew up in Lexington, TX, a small town of around 1200 people just about 50 miles northeast of Austin. One of Lexington's claims to fame could be Snow's BBQ which was tabbed as the best BBQ in Texas by Texas Monthly. After the season that Eddie recently had, I would have to say he could be the most well known person from Lexington! This past season Eddie was named ACL's mid season Rookie of the Year and finished it off as the number 1 ranked ACL player in the nation. That's kind of a Big Deal folks considering he beat out many ACL blue bloods like Cody Henderson, James Baldwin, Frank Modlin and hotshot young guns like Noah Wooten, Matthew Sorrells and fellow Texas Stud Josh Groce.

The Hutto, Tx resident is a 3 time Texas Cornhole League State Singles Champion and says his favorite memory is winning his first title which allowed him to get "over the hump" which he added wasn't easy! By watching him play I can't help but notice how easy he makes it look!

Eddie not only is a superior cornhole player but a top notch person as well. The first time I approached him he was very courteous and took the time to visit with me briefly. The soft spoken Texan is a fierce competitor but off the boards he is as nice as they come. I can't think of anything negative to say about him and I doubt I know anyone who could either.

Congratulations Eddie, you've made Texas and all of us players associated with TCL very proud of you. Best of luck to you Champ as you continue your career!