© 2022 WBGO
WBGO New Record Spine Header
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations

The American Cornhole League continues to grow in talent, popularity and television viewership thanks to young stars like Mark Richards and Kaylee Hunter

Mark Richards throwing.jpg
ACL
/
Mark Richards, a physical education teacher from Indiana, has become of the top player in the ACL in his rookie season

The 2022 American Cornhole League World Championships are coming up August 3-7. This is the biggest event of the year. There is more than $250k in guaranteed cash payouts. Similar to majors in golf, these ACL Pros are competing for high prize money payouts, and standings that lead up to the 2022 ACL World Championships.

The popularity of the ACL, founded in 2015 by commissioner Stacey Moore, grew tremendously during the coronavirus pandemic when most sports were shut down.

OnFriday, August 5, the celebrity/charity "SuperHole" World Championships will take place in Rock Hill, South Carolina which will be a 2 hour broadcast LIVE on ESPN The Ocho where 8 celebrities and 8 ACL Pros are competing for 100k for charity.

Commissioner Stacey Moore, television analyst Trey Ryder and the ACL's two top players Mark Richards and Kaylee Hunter joined WBGO Studios' award-winning podcast SportsJam with Doug Doyle to talk about the exciting talent and events in the league.

SportsJam zoom chat on ACL.jpg
Doug Doyle/Zoom
/
Stacey Moore, commissioner and founder of the American Cornhole League (bottom right), television analyst Trey Ryder (bottom left), champion players Kaylee Hunter (top right) and Mark Richards (top left) join SportsJam with Doug Doyle to talk about the upcoming World Championships and the popularity of the sport

While ACL is flourishing, Moore has lofty goals for the league, including efforts to make Cornhole an Olympic sport in 2028 and to see the prize money reached competitive levels with certain sports that attract the same type of TV coverage.

"Our prize money is certainly good but it's still not anywhere where I want it to be. To say like if our ratings are similar to the WNBA, I want Kaylee to be making as much as a WNBA player. That's my goal and objective and I'm working really hard to continue to increase our prize pools. I think certainly it's great where we are at, but we've still got a long way to go.

Moore, who learned to play to the sport at an NC State tailgate many years ago, says he gained valuable management experience from his short stint with the Greensboro City Gaters of the Global Basketball Association. Moore was director of merchandising and purchasing for the Gaters, who were coached by former North Carolina State Wolfpack assistant Ed McLean.

"I got my feet wet early on in sports with the failing Global Basketball Association and that Greensboro City Gaters team only lasted one season. I got to taste failure at a young age. I certainly learned a lot from that and I applied a lot of those things towards being successful with this league."

After learning the game at backyard events with her family and friends, Kaylee Hunter is now the top female player in the ACL. She says her dad is her mentor.

"He's the one who really got me into Cornhole. He plays just for fun, just something to do with his guy friends. Sometimes he plays in the lower division of the ACL but he doesn't take it seriously like me. When I first started, my dad was one of the better players. My dad always had this spin to it, but he gets mad now because I'm a lot better than him. A lot of people talk crap to him because his daughter can beat him now."

Kaylee throwing.jpg
ACL
/
Kaylee Hunter continues to show off her remendous skills in her second season in the ACL

Hunter, a full-time student at a community college in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, is now in her second year in the ACL and her confidence continues to grow.

"Last year I was kind of an up and coming player, but this year I've done alot better. I've made more TV appearances. You know I've kind of actually made a name for myself this year. Now when I step up to the girls it's they're like 'it's Kaylee now' because they know this year I've been killing it."

Women's double .jpg
ACL
/
The women's competition continues to grow in talent. Kaylee Hunter (right) is now the top player in the ACL in just her second season.

The top male player in the world is a rookie in the ACL. Physical Education teacher Mark Richards works in Wanatagh. His students aren't even aware yet that Richards is now a champion Cornhole player.

"We stopped school in May, so I really haven't seen any of the kids around. I'm definitely looking forward in a couple of weeks getting back to school and kind of talking about my summer break to them."

cornhole playing.jpg
ACL
/
The ACL World Championships are August 3rd through August 7th

Richards says being a lefty can have its advantages in ACL competition.

"In some ways I would say yes. The rotator of my bag, the way it spins, you know when I'm playing against someone they might think my block is pretty good against Mark but the way my bags turns I might be able to shift their blocker out of the way a little bit and I might be able to get around their bag differently. You know we have this rule in Cornhole where you can step out to your right or left three feet to get a better angle when you are throwing your next bag, and when my arms is on the outside, I feel pretty confident in getting around a bag."

One of the many reasons why fans find the ACL so additive to watch is the entertaining work of television analyst Trey Ryder who is known as the "Tony Romo" of the sport, for his ability to predict what players will do and his knowledge of the game.

"I think part of the reason it's become so popular is because people can't turn away when they turn it on. They get sucked in. They get addicted. When people walk Patrick Maholmes throw off his back foot 60 yards downfield, most people aren't saying 'I can do that.' They're just like 'wow that was an incredible play', but in Cornole, they're not going to be able to, trust me, but they see Mark Richards throw a four-bagger and they go "Oh I could do that!' So that gives them the bug to keep watching."

Pro Doubles.jpg
ACL
/
Doubles are just as popular as singles in the ACL.

Ryder, a former player, says the sport connects with so many different people who remember the first time they tried to throw a bean bag in a hole.

"Cornhole has an ability to be relatable. You have a memory associated with it and it's accessible. Part of the reason that soccer is the most popular sport is because you just need a ball. Cornhole requires a little more equipment but the idea is still the same. I can put two boards 27 feet apart, some people make them at home, and I can put them anywhere I want. It's really easy to get access to the game."

You can see my entire SportsJam conversation with Trey Ryder, Kaylee Hunter, Mark Richards and Stacey Moore here.

Stay Connected
Doug Doyle has been News Director at WBGO since 1998 and has taken his department to new heights in coverage and recognition. Doug and his staff have received more than 200 awards from organizations like PRNDI, AP, New York Association of Black Journalists, Garden State Association of Black Journalists and the New Jersey Society of Professional Journalists.