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New cornhole league pops up as sport gains traction in Canada

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A classic backyard game is gaining popularity in the Edmonton area, and a new league is inviting players to enjoy the sport year round.

The Tri-Muni Cornhole League welcomed its first batch of competitors Jan. 15 to the Blueberry Community Hall in Parkland Country.

"To my surprise, I had really thought that it would be a league made up mostly of locals coming out to play, but there's a lot of people coming from far and wide to join us," said Tri-Muni founder Sherry Colney. "I think it just speaks to the nature of the game.

"It's a very social game and a game anyone can play."

The league began as an idea to get more use out of the hall in winter months and get people socializing again after COVID-19 restrictions. Not a cornhole expert herself, Colney said she was surprised to learn just how competitive the game can be.

"[I] was really shocked to find just how popular cornhole is in the United States, how there's leagues, that it's on TV, there's big money pots," she said.

According to ESPN, which broadcasts the American Cornhole League (ACL) World Championships, the ACL was founded in 2016 and had grown to more than 100,000 registered players as of 2021 – with annual payouts up to US$500,000.

Phil Lloyd is one of the inaugural members of the Tri-Muni league, and he said he'd like to see the sport reach the same heights here in Canada.

"For me, it's kind of like golf. Once you get that itch to get better at it, it's really addicting," he said. "There's more to it than just throwing a bean bag, which you don't really see until you start playing it more."

"The fact that it's growing as fast as it is, it's great for cornhole," he added. "And it's great for me because I love to play it."

Another Tri-Muni league member, Rebecca George, said she's been playing backyard cornhole for forever, running her own tournaments with family and friends.

"I'm not surprised by the popularity. I love it, my group of friends loves it," she said. "We're backyard players all summer long. . . just this last summer we put lights in our cornhole board so we could play until one in the morning if we wanted."

While the league's play is faster and there are a few more rules, she said it's just as fun and there's a lot to learn from some of the more serious members.

For now, it's a social league, with around 40 players of all skill levels competing together. Depending on demand, Colney said she hopes to add a competitive league for more ambitious players in the future.

"Right now we have a mixed bag but everyone seems to get along good," she said. "I warned the newbies that there were some really good players coming."

The Tri-Muni Cornhole League is one of 38 leagues in Canada governed by Cornhold Canada, and one of eight in Alberta.

The Edmonton Sport and Social Club also recently started offering the sport.

With files from CTV News Edmonton's Amanda Anderson 

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