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Local pro has daughter in family sport of cornhole

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Admit it, you watched it.

Last spring and summer, when national sports were on hiatus during the early months of COVID-19, you turned on ESPN, maybe just due to force of habit, in the hopes of finding some live sports. Something, anything, even an ant race.

And when you turned on ESPN, you saw masked adults tossing beanbags into holes, and probably thought, ‘huh?’ You soon realized you were watching American Cornhole League coverage.

Maybe you had never heard of cornholing, only knew the word cornhole from ‘Beavis and Butthead.’

But, you watched cornholing on ESPN, at least for a while, because you thought, ‘Ah, sports.’

For Hobbs resident Bobby Fink, cornholing was an ah-sports thing long before COVID. Cornholing actually gave Fink a reason to think ah-sports again, actually provided ah-sports moments well beyond the age that most traditional athletes compete.

“I played sports in high school, played (basketball) for coach Ralph Tasker, so the competitive side (of cornholing) was just another outlet for us old guys,” said Fink, who grew up in Hobbs.

Fink was an Eagle quarterback, helped Tasker get some of his 1,122 career wins, played baseball, and flung a javelin for the Hobbs track & field team before he was flinging beanbags.

Fink’s current sport’s level of exposure has risen due to COVID.

“Yeah, absolutely,” he said. “As far as national goes, we were on T.V. more than football, more than baseball. We actually signed with CBS and ESPN; with multiple outlets, we’ll be on T.V. more. It’s definitely growing. It’s not just pros, it’s backyards. Anybody can play. We have grandpas play, kids playing. It’s for everybody.”

Including Fink’s 14-year-old daughter Emma. A walking, breathing sign of the times, Emma is a Hobbs High School freshman who has not yet set foot in a high school class because of virus-related closures. She can work on her cornholing, though. It might not be the most popular sport among teenagers, but it’s something Emma thinks should be and could be more popular.

“It’s fun to play,” she said. “You can get into it like you would any other sport.”

Emma’s father Bobby left Hobbs for about 20 years, lived in Oklahoma, before returning. It was Hobbs where Fink found his way into cornholing.

“Originally there was a league out at the casino,” he recalled. “I went out there; I won easily, so I started traveling to tournaments to get into sports again.”

Fink found that his competitive juices were flowing again. The competition was getting those juices flowing.

“These young cocky kids,” Fink recalled. “No one was beating them. … That’s what got me, the competitive side.”

Fink worked and worked at it, worked himself into an even higher-skilled player. It was something he and Emma could do to bond while his wife, her mother, was recovering from liver transplant surgery.

So, father and daughter were improving together.

“Me and her, every weekend we would go somewhere to play. … We traveled a bunch, didn’t we?” Fink said to Emma.

Anything to get better.

“Like with Coach Tasker when we would get up at five o’clock in the morning to shoot free throws,” Fink said. “It was one of those things where you wanted to be the best.”

Fink has competed in Rock Hill, South Carolina, in Denver, in Dallas. He will be headed to Tampa, Florida next month to compete again.

“There’ll be like 230 pros there,” he said.

Regional tournaments, conference tournaments, national tournaments. Fink has competed in them all.

For Fink, it’s become a way of life. For Emma, too. A pretty basic one.

“It’s a bean-bag toss,” she said, good-naturedly. “Like at carnivals.”

But, it’s getting to be a serious deal, and not just at the professional level.

“Before long, it’ll be a college sport,” Bobby Fink said. “And hopefully, we can get it into high school.”

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