CORNHOLE ARTICLES / Navy Destroyer Creates Cornhole Camraderie
Navy Destroyer Creates Cornhole Camraderie
Aboard the USS Chafee, some of the officers and crew are quietly alert -- working, watching.
The Chafee is 9,217 tons of American strength capable of carrying out air, undersea, surface, strike, and air control warfare operations in extreme, multi-threat environments. It can do everything from detecting, tracking and destroying aircraft to collecting hydrographic and oceanographic data.
Officially described as an Arleigh Burke Class Aegis Destroyer (DDG-90), it’s a technically advanced ship with an important mission. It ain’t no party boat.
But this is Saturday at sunset and for as far as the eye can see, the sparkling Pacific Ocean is serene. On the top deck, Navy personnel with free time are lighting up cigars. Jazz is oozing from the speaker system. Life is good.
It’s time to take a deep breath and relax.
It’s time to forget the week’s duties. Stretch a little. Laugh a little.
Just like at thousands of sports bars, backyards, community parks, campgrounds and the like throughout the U.S. and a growing number of sites around the world, when it’s time to chill it’s time for…
Stowed onboard along with missiles and torpedoes are some official American Cornhole Organization boards and bags. Native Ohioan Benjamin Wappelhorst of the Chafee crew and a buddy were talking about this rapidly growing activity once, and their executive officer was intrigued. Faster than you can say “Ahoy!” ACO had the equipment to the Chafee, and pickup games began.
“I would say approximately 100 people participate at different times depending on what is going on the ship at the time,” Wappelhorst (“Commissioner of Cornhole”) said in an e-mail from the ship to Hole magazine.
A league has been developed for Sundays, and a singles tournament is in the works. At Father's Day there was a barbecue and day-long cornhole event, with 36 teams participating. The winning team split $800. Before the Chafee heads back to Pearl Harbor, Wappelhorst will have one or two more tournaments.
Wappelhorst couldn’t say who the best players are; “It changes from day to day.”
He does, however, point out the variety of players he’s rounded up.
“We have a ship's softball team, basketball team, and flag football team on board. We play other teams when we pull into ports. Cornhole is just as competitive as the other sports and the same amount of smack is talked among players. However, cornhole gives us a chance for a lot more people to get involved in sporting events,” Wappelhorst said. “I am proud to say that USS Chafee has played cornhole all over Southeast Asia. We have even had members of the Philippine special forces onboard and playing cornhole.”
(Note: For more about the ship, see http://www.chafee.navy.mil)