Cornhole tournament to benefit Russell White scholarship

Date Published: 
May 30, 2014

Coastal Point • File Photo: The ladies of the Xi Upsilon sorority pose for a photo in the Millville Volunteer Fire Company’s fire hall during the fourth annual cornhole tournament, last year.Coastal Point • File Photo: The ladies of the Xi Upsilon sorority pose for a photo in the Millville Volunteer Fire Company’s fire hall during the fourth annual cornhole tournament, last year.This weekend, the Xi Upsilon sorority will host its fifth annual cornhole tournament benefitting the Russell White Scholarship Foundation.

“My sister and I attended the cornhole event one of the first years the sorority did it. We really enjoyed ourselves. We had a fun time and thought, ‘What a great cause!” explained Sarah Hoban, who serves on the event’s organizing committee. “That’s why we decided to sign up for the sorority and signed up for the cornhole committee — because we wanted to be a part of it.”

Up to 50 teams can compete on Saturday, May 31, at the Millville fire hall. Registration costs $50 per team of two, and each team member will receive a T-shirt.

As of early this week, 40 teams were registered for the event, but Hoban said those who wish to take the last 10 spots may still register if they call by the morning of the event. The sorority owns 10 sets of identical boards made specifically for the tournament and orders new bags each year.

For those who may be unfamiliar with the game of cornhole, there are two opposing teams, each made up of two players, who compete in a scored version of a beanbag tossing game.

“It’s a really fun game,” said Hoban. “The boards are so many feet apart. Each team gets a set of bags, which are usually made of duck cloth with corn in them. You take turns throwing those four bags down to the other side. You get three points if it gets in the hole; one if it’s on the board. The points cancel, and the first team to 21 wins. It’s an easy game that anybody can play.”

Those who sign up will be competing for first-, second- and third-place cash prizes. Registration check-in begins at noon on the day of the event, with the opening ceremony at 12:45 p.m. The first bag is set to be tossed at 1 p.m.

“We have cornholers that are really good and some that just come to have fun and contribute to the cause,” said Hoban.

For the last three years, a father-and-son duo, Team T&T, have won the tournament.

“They’ve been great supporters,” said Laura Tedesco, a sorority member who helped create the event. “Every year they donate the prize money back to the foundation.”

Hoban said that, over the years, friendly rivalries have been spawned from the tournament, including one between the team of Hoban and her sister, Emily Harne, and Team Eskimojo, comprising Point Editor Darin McCann and Point Technical Director Shaun Lambert.

“There are certainly some friendly rivalries,” she said with a laugh. “My sister and I do play once a year, whether we meet in the tournament or not. We always make it a point to play Shaun and Darin. And I’m sure they’ve told you we’ve won every year.”

But cornhole is also a spectator’s sport — as you don’t have to play to attend and have a good time.

“If anybody wanted to just come and watch and check out the silent auction, it’s just a great social event. We’ll have a D.J. there. Charlie K’s barbecue will be there for sale. With the tournament, door prizes, silent auction items, there’s plenty to see, for sure.”

Those attending can also be eligible for a door prize and to participate in a silent auction.

“A lot of the local businesses really help us out with donations. We have a lot of great restaurants that donate year after year — Steve Hagen at Off the Hook,” offered Hoban as an example. “Bethany Bike Shop is one of our biggest supporters. They donate a bike every year to auction off. Banks Wines & Spirits always does a lot. They’re doing cornhole boards this year. We actually have four sets of cornhole boards up for auction this year.”

Hoban added that it’s wonderful to see how much the community supports the sorority’s fundraising efforts.

“We really appreciate all of the support we get from the community, as far as donations and the people who come out and play. All of the sorority members do put in a lot of time to get this organized, and we appreciate that.”

Hoban said the cornhole tournament is the sorority’s biggest fundraiser each year.

In the past, the sorority had done golf tournaments, but Tedesco said they were a lot of work and not always very fun.

“We started tossing around ideas of what else we could do. Everyone said cornhole was getting popular, and that’s how it got kicked off,” she recalled. “Our first one, we just invited our family and very close friends, and they actually paid to play. We did it in the common area at Murray’s Haven.”

Tedesco said the trial tournament went well, and the sorority was able to raise a decent amount of money.

“We thought, ‘Wow — we’ve got something here.’”

Proceeds from the tournament benefit the Russell White Scholarship Foundation, named after the Indian River High School graduate who was killed in 2004 while serving in the U.S. Marine Corps in Afghanistan. Tedesco said that the sorority had been looking at starting its own scholarship and thought it would be fitting to name it after White.

“He had just been killed in the war,” she explained. “One of the girls, Christina Meiklejohn, her brother was really good friends with Russell. So, that’s how we decided to name the nonprofit.”

Tedesco said this year’s tournament will be special, as it is the anniversary of White’s passing and marks the 10th anniversary of the Iraq/Afghanistan war.

“A lot of Russell’s buddies who served with him will be playing this year,” she said. “We’re going to have the local JROTC come out and do a ceremony at the beginning of the event. We’ll also be having a slideshow of some pictures — a little more of a representation of who Russell White was.”

Over the years, the funds raised have grown, and this year, the sorority was able to award two $2,500 scholarships to Indian River High School students.

Xi Upsilon is part of Beta Sigma Phi, a women’s social, cultural and service organization. Throughout the year, they try to help various families in the community that are in need.

“Each year we adopt two families at Christmas that we buy for. We usually spend about $500 on each family. There was a teacher not too long ago that was battling breast cancer, and we were helping pay a couple bills,” she said. “We gave to a family locally whose house had burned and they had five kids.”

Tedesco said Xi Upsilon just wants to help the community and focus on the kids at Indian River.

“It just comes down to the fact that we were all born or raised here from a very early age,” she said. “We’ve gotten so much out of the community — we want to give back to it.”

Hoban said the cornhole event should be fun for all those who attend, while helping to raise money for a great cause.

“It’s a really fun day. That’s what inspired me to become a member of this sorority and a part of this,” said Hoban. “We just hope it keeps going as strong as it has been. It seems every year we get more and more teams to sign up and more support from the community. We just hope it keeps growing.”

Pre-register for the even by calling or texting Hoban, at (302) 363-7311. The Millville fire hall is located at 35554 Atlantic Avenue in Millville.