TEAM PHOTO

Legendary Cornhole won the USA Cornhole Club Championships on June 21 in Erie, Pennsylvania. Team members pose after winning the title, front row from left: Michael Dinges, Ryan Smith, James Washington. Tiffany Fincham, Tammy Williams, and Michael Lucas Jr. Back row from left: Jaime Fincham and Junior Williams.

A local cornhole club team won the first-ever USA Cornhole Club Championship on June 21 in Erie, Pennsylvania.

The club team, called Legendary Cornhole, was formed in March by Tiffany Fincham, of Stephens City. Fincham has been playing cornhole, a game in which players or teams throw bean bags through a hole on a raised board, for three years. She found out that USA Cornhole was trying to have a club championship in hopes of eventually making it an Olympic sport.

Fincham said she typically throws with her husband, Jaime, and her best friend Tammy Williams, of Stanley, and her husband, Junior. The group plays regularly around the country in competitions. Tiffany Fincham said that it didn’t take her long to find four more people for the eight-person team needed for the club championships.

“My husband, of course, is on the team,” Tiffany Fincham said. “One (of my teammates) is my women’s doubles partner (Tammy Williams), her and I have been on ESPN. So I had her and her husband and then there were two other teams of two that I knew as well that had also been on ESPN that we play with. So all eight of us play together regularly. We play against each other. We play with each other as doubles partners. So we’re frequently playing against each other or we are partners in the entire cornhole community.”

The other four players on the team are Michael Dinges, of New Market, Michael Lucas Jr., of Stanley, James Washington, of Charlottesville, and Ryan Smith, of Herndon.

The eight came together quickly despite the COVID-19 pandemic, which began shortly after the team was formed.

Over Memorial Day weekend, the team played in the first round of the Cornhole Club Championships, which was held virtually. It was held over three days. Tiffany Fincham said there were 10 teams that played virtually and she said it was very different playing that way.

“Some of them had been doing virtual practices and it was like flawless for them,” Tiffany Fincham said. “A lot of the players had no issue, I’m talking about out of all of the 10 teams. A lot of them had been doing virtual competition the whole time. Then some of us had not been doing it and had struggled every day over the three-day period. So it was kind of stressful.

“It’s just you and a board and you’re walking back and forth. So you don’t have someone on the other side throwing bags with you or on the boards. So it’s just you by yourself back and forth, back and forth 10 times. It was pretty stressful for me, because I had not practiced virtual. I wish I would have practiced earlier virtually.”

Tiffany Fincham, who is a three-time cancer survivor, said that all of the guys on her team performed really well to help them advance to the finals.

“Let me tell you those guys on my team – they crushed it,” she said. “They had no issue whatsoever and they excelled. They really put us on the top, to get to advance. They were amazing – I mean amazing.”

Legendary Cornhole advanced to a two-team final against Keystone Cornhole, which was from Lancaster, Pennsylvania. The final was played in Erie, Pennsylvania, and was shown on national television on NBC Sports Network. All of the competitors wore masks throughout the competition.

The finals were divided into five matches. The first two were worth 200 points each. Keystone’s Tony Brewer beat Legendary’s Junior Williams in a men’s singles match. Tiffany Fincham then beat Keystone’s Donna Storms in a women’s singles match.

Legendary’s Michael Dinges and Jaime Fincham won the men’s doubles match over Keystone’s John Kitchin and Jamie Hudson, which was worth 300 points. In the open doubles match, also worth 300 points, Legendary’s James Washington and Ryan Smith beat Keystone’s Storm Hogg and Colton Heisey. That gave Legendary the lead, 800-200. However, the final match was worth 1,000 points. Legendary’s Tammy Williams and Michael Lucas Jr. beat Keystone’s Devon Harbaugh and Brittany Emge in the mixed doubles match. The win gave Legendary a win by the final score of 1,800-200.

Tiffany Fincham said it was exciting to win and what made it even more special was doing it as a team.

“The eight of us are like family; we’re extremely close,” she said.

Tiffany Fincham described each of the players on her squad. She said that Junior Williams, is laid back but can sneak up on opponents and pull out a win, and he’s supportive of his teammates. Tiffany Fincham said that Michael Dinges is consistent and just when it looks like he has a bag in a “dead spot, he will step up and push a bag into the hole to score 4 points.” She said that her husband Jaime Fincham is extremely focused and intense, and that Ryan Smith is methodical and one of the most strategic players in the game.

Tiffany Fincham described James Washington’s game as smooth from his forward motion to his release and he is consistent. She said that Michael Lucas Jr. has the best mechanics in cornhole. Tiffany Fincham said that his throws have limited body movement and the rotation of his bags are quick. She said that Tammy Williams is confident with no nerves and is consistent. Tiffany Fincham described herself as energetic, intense, vocal and aggressive.

The goal for everyone on the team is to compete in the 2028 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles. Tammy Fincham said that USA Cornhole Executive Director Kevin Warner is trying to get cornhole to be an Olympic sport, and that having a club championship was the first step in that process.

“We want to go to the Olympics as a team,” she said. “We’re strong, we’re family. We are so close and that is our goal – we want to get there. So we’re hopefully going to get there in 2028, and that’s a team goal for Legendary Cornhole to have all eight members part of that Olympic team.”

– Contact Tommy Keeler Jr. at tkeeler@nvdaily.com