What started as a simple fundraiser for the Talisi Wrestling Club has turned into a regional competition for he American Cornhole League. Brent Tennyson has been a part of the wrestling program for the last 10 years and is always searching for ways to raise money to keep the club alive for young wrestlers in Tallassee. 

Tennyson and his brother, Cody, had the idea to host weekly cornhole nights at The Sports Gin. They provided a local spot for people of all ages to compete in tournaments for prizes while raising just enough money to keep the building afloat for the wrestling club.

“We really just started this as something fun to do,” Brent Tennyson said. “We wanted to supply people with something to do around town.”

The Sports Gin hosted cornhole nights each weekend with the event varying between Friday and Saturday nights and Sunday afternoons. As the crowd grew, Tennyson realized the popularity of the sport.

Tennyson said players drive from all over the state to compete in the local tournaments. He learned more about the professional cornhole league and decided to get more involved.

“This is a game for everyone,” Tennyson said. “We get people who throw every day to people who have never played. You don’t have to be the best in the world to come out and have fun.”

While he has seen a wide variety of talent during their local tournaments, Tennyson will now provide a spot for the best of the best cornhole players from around the southeast. 

Cornhole players will converge on Tallassee on Saturday as The Sports Gin hosts an ACL Regional at Warehouse 51. Players will look to secure points to qualify for nationals, which is shown on the ESPN family of networks.

“I’m excited for it,” Tennyson said. “This is my first time doing anything like this so I’m sure we’ll make mistakes along the way but we want to make sure we do a good enough job to make people want to come back. It should be a lot of fun.”

Tennyson said he expects about 80 competitors for the event, which has a $25 entry fee but there will be a payout to the winning players. There will be several different tournaments throughout the day including singles, doubles, advanced and a blind draw.

Any registered ACL member can participate and Tennyson said individuals can register on site before the tournament.

“As far as I know, we’re the only ones to host an ACL Regional in Alabama so far,” Tennyson said. “We’re providing a spot for some of these players who have to drive hours and hours to play in a tournament.”

While he is excited to provide a bigger stage for cornhole, Tennyson said his main goal is still to find support for the wrestling program. Talisi Wrestling Club has been home to several AHSAA state placers, including current Tallassee wrestlers Zack Haynes and Mason Bell.

“The goal is getting people to know who we are and what we’re about,” Tennyson said. “I want to provide a place for these kids to wrestle and we found a way to do that plus giving people around town somewhere to hang out. We want to have a good nighttime atmosphere.”

Caleb Turrentine is a sports writer for Tallapoosa Publishers Inc.