Home Local News Hobbsans Dean Parker, Bobby Fink building cornhole in New Mexico

Hobbsans Dean Parker, Bobby Fink building cornhole in New Mexico

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To the average citizen, Dean Parker and Bobby Fink seem like just a couple of Hobbsans. But, on the national cornhole circuit, the duo is among the top of their class.

Going one-step further, of the 232 professional American Cornhole League (ACL) players, Fink is the only member to hail from New Mexico. As for Parker, he is the top ranked non-pro in New Mexico with 1,764 points.

Parker and Fink got started in cornhole several years ago. Fink, who works at Midwest Hose & Specialty, began playing thanks to a salesman who introduced them to the game. Now, that salesman doesn’t play anymore and thanks to regular practice, and play, Parker and Fink are working their way up the national ranks.

The competition and competitiveness was a big draw for the pair.

“We started hitting tournaments,” Parker said. “And we were winning tournaments.”

Most of the tournaments can be found on Facebook. A quick search for cornhole tournaments in New Mexico produced the Duke City Cornhole Club, the ACO New Mexico Cornhole, the 3rd Annual New Mexico Cornhole State Tournament, the New Mexico Cornhole Federation, and the American Cornhole League, to name a few.

“Pretty much all these places that do tournaments, have their own name,” Parker said. “Like Cave Kings Cornhole, they are out of Carlsbad. We are part of it now and they put on (a tournament) last weekend.”

Parker and Fink took second, out of 45 teams, at the Cave Kings Cornhole Tournament in Carlsbad.

This weekend, Fink and Parker are traveling to Philadelphia for the fourth ACL national tournament of the season. There are 1,100 contestants, over 200 of which are professionals, entered in the tournament and all available openings in the tournament filled up in 90 minutes.

“At the pro level, we have to wear masks when we are throwing,” Fink said. “It is a requirement for ESPN and the ACL. This is where we are finally getting to re-open and do the fourth (national).”

To become an ACL Pro, players have to go through a qualifier. On Aug. 4-9, there will be a qualifier tournament held in Rockhill, S.C. There are currently 250 people registered from all over the country for the tournament with only 32 slots moving on to try and qualify. The cost to register for the tournament, for a chance to try and become a pro, is $150.

As a pro, Fink is eligible to play for the $250,000 prize pool every year. He also gets to play in some leagues that are aired on ESPN.

“I have been on ESPN twice,” Fink said. “That exposure for anybody who wants to support cornhole has helped, especially with some of the local people wanting to advertise. It also helps put some money into the game around here.”

Pizza Mill and Sub Factory, Babcock Supply, and Superior Hyrdovac are among the local sponsors that Fink has. The logos from each of his sponsors are worn on his jersey.

“It was kind of tough (getting sponsors) at first because when I first started, nobody knew about it,” Fink said. “But they have all pitched in to help my first year (as a pro).”

In February they played at the first national tournament of 2020 in Florida. Then they went to Cleveland for the second national tournament, but it got cancelled because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The third national tourney, in Salt Lake was also cancelled.

Aside from trips to Florida and Philadelphia for national tournaments, Parker and Fink have also played in Oklahoma, South Dakota, North Dakota, Minnesota, Texas, Kansas City and Iowa.

“We have gotten beat by some of those players, but we have also beaten some of them,” Parker said. “It has been a really good experience.”

The ACL is the largest cornhole league in the United States. While Parker is not a member of the ACL, he is a member of the Texas Corn-hole League (TCL).

“The Texas Cornhole League is about the second biggest organization and it is just in Texas,” Parker said. “We make their signature series, trying to get points to make top 50. I don’t make all their tournaments, only their signature series because they produce the most points and I am like 27th in points.”

Cornhole can also be played virtually. Fink’s Ghost Cornhole has daily tournaments, women’s only, weekly tournaments, junior tournaments, free play, and more. How to play is a person competes against a “ghost” online or on social media.

“I started it in September before any of this stuff was every heard of,” Fink said. “It got up to around 2,000 members on our Facebook page (Ghost Cornhole) and by mid-March it doubled to 4,000 because of everybody wanting to play virtual.”

While Parker and Fink play a lot in Seminole, Andrews, Artesia, and other near and around the Hobbs/Lea County area. Parker and Fink won Seminole’s inaugural league last month, taking first place out of 50 teams.

“We help coach and teach people how to play while we are playing there,” Parker said. “They are real respondent because (Fink) is an ACL pro and I am an A-player. So they listen to what we are saying and it helps build cornhole. The bigger it gets, the better it is and more popular it is.”

For those who are interested in playing here in Hobbs, Parker and Fink are starting a Wednesday night blind draw league at Dry-lands Brewery.

“It will be something like a $5 or $10 league,” Fink said. “We are going to try and do it every Wednesday night. That is kind of the basic way to get people involved. There are a lot of people who play backyard right now, but there is nothing organized.”

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