Originally published at The Osprey
Rosemary Bair and Cassie Rienth had beers in hand at a bar on Monday night, surrounded by five TVs playing a Green Bay Packers football game. But their eyes were focused in a different direction.
“Don’t mess up, Adam!” Rienth yelled across the dance floor to her teammate. Their perfect 3 and 0 record was on the line.
Their team, “Me So Corny” was one of eighteen teams that participated in the inaugural cornhole season at 89 North in Patchogue this week. The local recreational league is the latest growth of LI-Kick, an adult social sports organization, launched in 2013.
What was started by Sal Farruggia as a seasonal adult kickball league that played year-round in Glen Cove has now expanded into a multi-sport, multi-venue venture. Last fall, Rich von Rauchhaupt met Farruggia and the two partnered. Von Rauchhaupt expanded the league into Suffolk County, and now, for the first time, to cornhole.
“I think we’re at the beginning of [cornhole] exploding around here,” von Rauchhaupt said.
Cornhole is a staple game at tailgates and parties in the American Midwest and South, but is relatively unknown on Long Island. The object of the game is to toss small bags, filled with dried corn, onto a board and into a hole 27 feet away. Many players on Monday said that they had just started playing over the last month in preparation for the league.
The organization was unable to secure a permit for an outdoor kickball field with lights in Suffolk County during the fall, so von Rauchhaupt discussed a possible cornhole league with the owner of 89 North and it was in both parties’ interest. The Patchogue bar is usually closed on Mondays this time of year, but now it has a crowd of 60 cornhole players to serve drinks to.
“We used to do bocce ball on Wednesdays and we rent out the venue for country line dancing,” Meaghan Lydon, a bartender at 89 North, said. “Rich approached us about cornhole on Monday nights and we were like ‘why not’!”
In the spring and summer of this year, kickball teams played at Heckscher State Park in East Islip. The league grew to 110 players in only four months. It was a way to make close friends, which one player, Justin King, said was hard to do in adult life.
“Playing a sport again, having not played in forever, was great,” King said. “But there were two components to it. We played kickball for a few hours, which was fun, then we all went to the bars and partied, which was even more fun.”
In preparation for the change from kickball to cornhole, 12 wooden boards, painted with the “LI-Kick” logo, were built over a couple weekends by von Rauchhaupt and a few of his friends over the summer. He was able to secure a sponsorship with Blue Point Brewing Company, which in return supplied prizes for the winning teams, including shirts and cornhole boards and bags.
“It’s hard to throw when you’re wearing a suit,” Anthony Fasano, a lawyer and member of one of the teams, said laughingly. “I came straight from work to be here.”