Okay, so I've had a pretty cornhole dominated life the last few years no doubt. It's January 2016 now and when did I start? I think September 2011 or so?? That sounds right. And I really, REALLY enjoyed it. I loved cornhole the first time I played it with my family. It was challenging and fun! I got into it right away and wanted to get better. It wasn't long and I joined a league with Chrissie. It was something new and fun and exciting. All things I treasure. It was competitive!! It has a learning curve.. there were rankings and winners and losers. It was a great find.. I knew I'd be throwing bags for a long time.
Then I found NEO Cornhole (now Cleveland Cornhole) and it was like a whole new world opened up. It was so exciting to learn there were actually cornhole "pros" and that some of them played right there. I watched in amazement as some of the best players in Cleveland battled it out. I had never seen airmails and pushes before. I studied and learned. I asked the pros to play games with me and give me tips. I wanted to get better! There was so much to learn and practice. and my desire for the game only grew. It was an exciting new world and I wanted to learn more about it and perhaps even be a part of it.
Just a year later I discovered that I was a part of it.. very much so. Everyone in the league knew me pretty much. I was making friends. I was getting more comfortable with them even though I was scared they would never accept me when I first joined. My neighbor and I actually one the bottom and middle divisions. Over time, I graduated to the top division and although I tried entering pro circuit events like the ACO regionals and the money tourneys. I would often go 0-2. But that was okay. I just made it a goal to win 1 game.. then 2... then finish top half.
I think we all know the story from here. I went on to become the best female player in Cleveland and even one of the top players in general. I think I made it to #3 in our local voted on rankings which is pretty freaking good. There was a time when the top 3 were undoubtedly Gary, Jeff and Adam and it seemed impossible to ever break that line. Well, I guess getting 3rd at worlds and getting team of the year with Christine broke me through over Gary as he faded a bit. It was exciting but none of this happened by accident. I am grateful for how good cornhole has been to me. It's been an exciting ride. I never thought I would be traveling the country, even as far as Georgia, Denver, Texas, Virginia Beach.. etc to throw bags in a hole and compete with the best in the world and have a chance at maybe even winning? or coming close?
I also never dreamed I would someday be on those ACO videos i used to watch. Never dreamed I would meet and talk to Derrick King, one of my heroes as adventured through the cornhole world. It did happen though, and it happened awhile ago. And maybe.. just maybe, it has run its course.
I still enjoy the game and I'm still good at it even. I can still win events and place well nationally on a good day. I can suck it up too no doubt, but that's always been true and its just part of the game in my opinion. There was something else too.. some of the friendships. Playing Worlds with Weiser was a dream come true for me at Turfway. We played so well together and we've won some cash together at other events as well. Eventually, Weiser wanted to focus on being tournament director and couldn't really commit to playing due to family commitments anyway. So I took Mike (Mokey) on as a partner for a time. I turned down better players to play with him in ACO. Why? I remember why. Because he was such a good friend to me. We talked every day. We texted every day. I remember he would be upset if we almost didn't text each other for one day. I know he probably wanted more than friendship with me. I guess that's something I've gotten used to over the years... disappointing people when I can't give them the more that they want.. or even need.
And that usually collapses over time and sure enough it did. Mike did end up with Christine, my rival.. but also my new partner. I remember her and I getting along well too in the old days. She didn't have an ego like she does now. I remember she wanted to make me proud of her. She wanted to make sure to do well so she could keep me as a partner and at the same time I believed in her and encouraged her. I saw her passion.. and she told me I was her inspiration (as well as her break up giving her more time to play seriously..lol) We dreamed about being the only fierce all female team in the ACO. Looking back, I think we definitely acheived that. Now that people know us and have seen us enough, I don't think its quite as magical as it was. We're just another team now.. but a damn good one.
A sad part of it though is the relationship between us. Maybe its me and maybe its her.. and maybe its her dating Mike and being part of the reason that friendship btw him and I died. Maybe its alcohol. Maybe its egos conflicting with each other.. or maybe its that delicate balance of being partners, friends and total rivals at the same time. That rivalry did drive us to get better. I have no doubt that that is what drove us to practice non-stop.. every day if thats what it took.. play everything.. ANY event Weiser could dream up and more! We were there. And I know why. I wanted to get better. I wanted to stay better. I knew she was getting better and I had to stay on my game or she would pass me up. It was a powerful motivator. and it was the same for her. She had a clear goal... to beat me. To take that crown I won. And its not that I wanted to stop her from taking the crown neccessarily.. but I couldn't let her consistantly just get better than me.. Everything I had accomplished was on the line. It felt like what I had done was special somehow. If Christine did all the same, or even more.. then that would undermine everything I had done. I couldn't allow that to happen. So i fought. Perhaps more than I should have. I gave it everything I had to stay on my game...and improve upon it.
Sadly, that fire is a distant memory. I feel glimpses of it from time to time, but I almost instantly feel overwhelmed because I know what it requires to get better at this level. It requires more than I ever gave and I can't even keep that up anymore.. and haven't for some time. I am overwhelmed.. I am tired. And my wins.. when I do win.. they just don't feel all that special or amazing anymore. I love to be the underdog.. the unknown one.. and come in with a fire and challenge even the best players.. scare the crap out of them.. or lose to them knowing I will come back for them again. Now I am in that spot. People know me and they are after me. They are improving faster and they have more passion. I am no longer the passionate one.
It's probably true that if my passion was relit somehow (unlikely) that I could improve even more.. or perhaps accomplish a lot more even at my current skill level. There would be enjoyment but not like it was. Even if I won KOC itself, I don't think it would matter so much to me anymore. and I'm not sure it ever did. It's funny but i was never after that crown. I don't look to the be the best. That's not how I operate. I look to improve. I look for progress. I want to be a better versian of what I was yesterday. I want to accomplish something new.. if being the best is the next step, that's a hard one for me because I almost don't want that. Maybe that's hard to understand for people. But I don't really care about the fame of it.. the recognition. I've always played for myself. I play to learn.. to improve.. to enjoy .. and for personal accomplishment.
And now what do I play for? Sadly, I play mostly for obligation at this point. I sitll have fun yes.. drinking makes anything fun. But before and after the events I don't really care. Life was better when I had things to look forward to. I almost dread some events.. or at least how tired I will be the best day after drinking two bottles of wine (awful). So as someone who loves to drag out painful decisions, I don't want to admit that its over and that its time to move on, but it probably is. Remember those things I mentioned earlier in this entry? How I was so excited and I wanted to learn? and a whole new exciting world opened up? Well once you spend years within that world its not exactly exctiting anymore.. its still pretty cool.. but its not new. and I don't watch good players with amazement anymore. I wish I did. Now I watch and I shrug... yeah, i could probably do that too i think to myself. It's just not inspiring like it was. and I'm not even the best... just decent.
Funny, I didn't mean to write a history of cornhole over these last 4-5 years but I suppose that's what I did. It's tough to admit when things have changed but even if cornhole just disappeared, life doesn't end there. Of course I'd miss things about it, but we already know I found my next thing. chess is everything cornhole was at the beginning. It's exciting and new.. challenging. and I have lots of improvement I could make rapidly. I sure do love that... not that I want to jump in right away though... cuz I don't. I think I could use a break. Its been tiring.. having my time dominated by one hobbie so intensely for so long.. not being able to even grab dinner with a friend or see a movie. Struggling at work bc I drank so much and stayed out so late the night before. I don't need that anymore. I just need a break.
So I don't know exactly what the future brings but I am going to ask the question... if I were to step back from cornhole...what would that look like? I should remember.. its not like i have to forever. I can always come back. If the fire came back... i could embrace it again. I could fight hard and improve all over again.. if i wanted to. Maybe even years from now if it was something i wanted. Maybe i would hit a wall in chess and decide i'd rather throw bags again simply bc i'm good at it? Then again, I think all the new talent would be hot and knock me right out of it again.. i can't be a new player ever again. I left my mark.. which is good.. but not so good if i'm looking to start over. It woudln't be the same.
So here's what I'm thinking. There is one first step I can take and that is to skip league next session. No doubt this will scare some people.. including me, but I can do that. The commitment of playing every single Monday is a bit much for me and it makes it hard to play chess tourneys Tuesdays, which I do enjoy I won't lie. I like to have the option. So what if I finish the season and then take a break, what would that look like? Looks like March 14th is the final day for winter session. Wow.. that is about 6-7 weeks.. a long time, but I guess that gives me time to get used to the idea. Is there anything else i can do in the meantime? I think 1-2 times a week will be fine and if Mondays are one.. then I only want one other day... then I can practice if I really want to (I might really need it)..
It does look like there is one big event every weekend... Jan 31st - team tourney... then a weekend off.. i'll take it... then UC Major! then ACO regional... then blind draw (that's optional).. then UC regional (optional)
I guess I'm kind of thinking if I were going to slow down spring is the time right? If I am going to worlds and playing in those big events i think it might be a good idea to slow down in spring... let myself yearn for cornhole a little.. I might fall out of practice but I have to believe i can get it back too. When April 1st comes around.. I could start playing again.. or later even.. getting ready for a major or even Worlds. Maybe it won't feel like such an obligation. But I do have the issue of so many big events in the summer. ACL, UC and ACO??? I know for a fact I don't want to spend all my vacation days on stuff like that. and I'm not sure i have the energy to work it out etiher.. so I do have time to figure those things out. Maybe I attend 2 out of 3? Maybe I attend... 1? Maybe I say screw it, although letting down Christine isn't something I want to do.. although I'd be free to skip singles and womens so there are options. I'll let that sit for now. No need for a concrete decision. Stick to the plan....its simply really.
Play 1-2 times a week .. that's fine! don't feel obligated to play more.
And skip Spring session.
AND no other new obligations. if really juice money tourneys come up then fine.. hmm I think i did agree to the Cabin fever tourney.. whooops lol... yeah, gotta stop doing that.
Next entry: Should be... what would I do with my time if I had no cornhole at all? I think that's a great question bc I do feel like there are so many things. Simply, I think it would be
1.) hang with Ericka
2.) have Caleb visit
3.) maybe a trip to Austria?
4.) get back in shape.. bike trips, running, spin class??? etc
5.) work on my appearance and clothing.. professional and personal
6.) work on my personal goals!!
7.) get more into chess
8.) play video games
9.) eat out.. try restaurants!!
10.) do rock climbing maybe
11.) see my niece and nephew and sister more?
12.) rest more
13.) do better at work? figure out how to like my job again? build relationships?? experiment wiht it.
14.) enter the dating world.. maybe even make new friends.. could be exciting.
15.) gardening agian
16.) cooking again!
17.) maybe go vegetarian again even???
18.) rowing? join something new??
So there you go.. that's off the top of my head even. :) I'll try do some of those things this spring even.