Trassen Oppelt (left) and Tera Streit warm up before a weekly cornhole tournament at Bosk Brew Works in Woodinville on Thursday. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Trassen Oppelt (left) and Tera Streit warm up before a weekly cornhole tournament at Bosk Brew Works in Woodinville on Thursday. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Professional cornhole is a thing now, and it’s coming to Everett

Competitors at this weekend’s major tournament will toss bean bags into a box with a hole in it.

If you watch sports on television, chances are you’ve had this experience.

During an idle moment at home you were flipping through the sports TV stations and came across a broadcast of competitive cornhole.

You mean that backyard game where you throw bean bags onto a box with a hole in it? That’s on television? Really? Your reaction was pure disdain.

And then you spent 20 minutes getting sucked into a sport you never imagined you’d spend time watching on TV.

That’s right — professional cornhole is a thing now, and this weekend it’s coming to Everett.

Mark Vogl (left) and Mike Diaz fist-bump after their cornhole game at Bosk Brew Works on Woodinville on Thursday. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Mark Vogl (left) and Mike Diaz fist-bump after their cornhole game at Bosk Brew Works on Woodinville on Thursday. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

The American Cornhole Organization is holding a major tournament Friday and Saturday at the Everett Soccer Arena, and the ACO Everett Major is giving the Pacific Northwest its first chance to see what professional cornhole is all about.

The ACO Everett Major is one of 23 ACO major tournaments being held around the country during the 2018-19 season. The organization is in its 14th season, but this is the first time a major is being held in the Pacific Northwest.

Friday evening will feature the Women’s, Junior, Senior and Coed Doubles divisions. Saturday will consist of the World Singles and World Doubles divisions, which are the divisions competitors can earn points toward the ACO rankings — the top 80 at the end of the season receive recognition as professionals — as well as qualification toward the ACO World Championships of Cornhole 14 on July 2-6 in Las Vegas. The World Singles and World Doubles divisions are open to players of all ages and genders.

Related: Limited online streaming of the ACO Everett Major

“We were looking for a first home in the Pacific Northwest,” ACO founder and president Frank Geers said. “It’s a centralized location for our players in that neck of the woods and a good spot to pitch in.”

Most people are familiar with cornhole as the game played in the grass at parks, backyard barbecues or outdoor weddings. Two platforms with a hole cut in them are placed a distance apart, and competitors take turns tossing bean bags at the platform with the intention of getting the bags into the hole, usually by sliding the bag up the board and into the hole. The player most successful at that task is the winner.

In the ACO the boards are placed 27 feet apart from front edge to front edge. The ACO also uses bean bags that have a smooth surface on one side and a sticky surface on the other, which increases the strategy involved.

The ACO is not to be confused with the American Cornhole League, which is the competition televised by ESPN. But according to Geers the ACO is the granddaddy of pro cornhole organizations.

“We are the highest level of them all,” Geers said. “Anything you see in the world of cornhole — I don’t want to sound arrogant, but it’s true — has our DNA in it somewhere. We don’t see other organizations as threatening. It’s good because it’s helping grow awareness to the sport.”

Matt McCutchan prepares to throw during a cornhole game at Bosk Brew Works in Woodinville on Thursday, Feb. 7. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Matt McCutchan prepares to throw during a cornhole game at Bosk Brew Works in Woodinville on Thursday, Feb. 7. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

The ACO Everett Major has drawn experienced tournament players and competitive cornhole beginners. Geers said players from seven different states are signed up to participate, including players from as far away as Illinois and Ohio.

Among the most experienced local players who’s signed up to play is Tera Streit, a 37-year-old from Mill Creek who has competed in dozens of cornhole tournaments up and down the west coast. She also organizes weekly local cornhole competitions — currently they’re indoors at Bosk Brew Works in Woodinville and during the summer they’re outdoors at Sporty’s Beef & Brew in Everett.

“I’m excited to see what the turnout is going to be,” said Streit, who is competing in four divisions this weekend: Women and Coed Doubles on Friday, and World Singles and World Doubles on Saturday. “It’ll be really interesting to see what kind of draw we get up here. The sport is still super pocketed up here, but I know a few people who are coming from out of state.

“For me it’s all about the people I meet. Yes, it’s fun to play, and yes, it’s more fun to win. But you meet some of the coolest people from all around the country, and you stay in touch with them.”

While points toward qualifying for the World Championships are at stake this weekend, beginners are also welcome. Among the first-timers is Zach Pederson, a 23-year-old from Mill Creek who is participating in his first ever cornhole tournament. He’s playing World Doubles with his brother Will.

“I was thinking about what I should get my brother for his birthday. I typed cornhole tournament into my browser and found the ACO was coming to Everett,” said Pederson, who’s been practicing several times a week to prepare. “I thought, ‘Wow, it would be cool to enter the tournament and see how we do.’”

The ability of anyone to participate is what Geers believes is the sport’s biggest draw.

“I think one of the compelling things about cornhole is that it’s a simple game that anyone can compete at,” Geers said. “At our tournament we just had in Knoxville, (Tenn.), we had two 9-year-olds compete and they were every bit as good as the adults. Whether you’re 8 or 80, black or white, male or female, anyone can play cornhole.”

And now it might just get you on TV, too.

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