Their aim is true: Cornhole enthusiasts raise $8,400 for the love of MPAL

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For two nights each week in May outside Billy’s Sports Bar & Grill people competed in the “Amaizing Cornament” to raise funds for MPaL./Photo/Pat Grossmith

MANCHESTER, NH – Each Monday and Tuesday night during May 42 teams of two members each participated in “The Amaizing Cornament,” the first-ever cornhole competition to raise funds for MPAL (Manchester Police Athletic League).

Jayna Stevens, M-PAL’s director of operations & development, said the idea for the event was a way to try and offset some COVID losses.  The cost to enter the competition was $200 per team, raising $8,400 for the non-profit organization.

On Tuesday, the teams met for the “Ultimate Tournament and BBQ” where they took on the kids who were honing their skills by playing the game with officers and deputy sheriffs each week.

“This (the Ultimate Tournament) is where the community gets to meet our kids and the kids get to see how many people support them,” said Stevens.

Awards were also handed out for Best Team Name, Most Points Scored, the Ultimate Championship Prize and The Corncolation Prize, for scoring the least points.

Stevens said it was “absolute magic watching the kids and deputies play.  I have literally watched one of our young girls change from being shy and lacking self-confidence to becoming confident, smiling and joking. The fact that she is now also sinking bean bags is icing on the cake!”

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The cornhole boards for the adult competition were set up on Monday and Tuesday nights in May outside Billy’s Sports Bar & Grill.

On a Tuesday night late in May, dozens of men and women could be seen tossing corn filled bags, trying their best to land them in the hole on the slanted board about 20 feet away.

Among those taking aim was Greg Clark of Harvey Construction.  His sister-in-law is Stevens and his brother-in-law owns Harvey. “I’m obligated to have fun with them,” he said laughing. “It’s a lot of fun.”

This night his team is filling in for one that couldn’t make it.  That night his team posted two wins, two loses.  Monday night, they also played, winning three games and losing one; the week before it was just the opposite, three losses, one win. 

 “What’s great about cornhole, is anybody can play,” he said.  “It’s a great game.”

Jackie Roy of Deerfield, an insurance agent with Optisure, was another participant.  Roy, who is on the board of directors of MPAL, said she was born and raised in Manchester. 

A group of friends signed up for the fundraiser, turning the event into a friendship night, she said.  “It’s great fun,” she said.

Roy looked forward to the ultimate tournament vying against the kids and said she wanted the kids to triumph.

Also in the competition was Lloyd Doughty, who is retired from the Manchester Police Department after 28  years and now heads security at the Southern New Hampshire University arena.  He said it was his teammate, Mark Simard, who got him to sign up.  

“We’re holding our own,” he said of his bean bag toss prowess.  “We’re not professionals.  We’re respectable.”

He was more than happy to sign up when Simard asked him to partner with him.  “Anything for MPAL,” he said.

They weren’t exactly ringers, but Lloyd Doughty, left, and Mark Simard said they’d do anything for MPAL, including play cornhole. Photo/Pat Grossmith

The two are not exactly pros at the sport, logging 10 wins and 12 losses.

The league provided camaraderie and enjoyment, a break from the doldrums of a pandemic, and it was all for a good cause.

MPAL, a non-profit run by a Manchester police officer assigned full-time to the organization, matches cops as mentors and coaches with kids in its after-school programs including aikido, arm wrestling, boxing, cooking, cross-training, homework help, jiu-jitsu, judo and life skills.

All programs are 100-percent free of charge, making them accessible to all youth who want to participate.