April 23, 2021: Lady POW – Cathy Mamabear Emerson Cathy (aka MamaBear)

Cathy Mamabear Emerson

Cathy (aka MamaBear) pictured in the middle

 “Women are just as competitive as men, we just do it differently.  And creating a space for women, by women is a healthy sane way to attract more women to the game. Sport.  What are we calling it now?”-Cathy

The Post that got Cathy selected for this honor

Summer of 2018, after several years of watching my husband play cornhole with a lot of other men, while mostly women sat & watched men play cornhole, I asked the women why weren’t they playing, too?  “nah husband’s a jerk, boyfriend’s a dick when we play…he says I can’t throw it right, they get too serious/too stupid/too drunk to take it serious and play fairly with me…”

I asked, “What if it were just us girls—”  “Absolutely” “Yep, sign me up”  to  “Hell yes!”

That October of 2018 I threw an all women’s cornhole event in CA central valley  I was told I was charging too much for registration ($40/person) and there weren’t enough women who wanted to play…sold out in 10 days, 38 teams signed up. Paid out $1200 in total, held 2nd all women’s event in Jan 2019, lather, rinse & repeat.  Most of my facebook memories are now because of cornhole.

You get the idea. 

Where do you live? Exmore VA – Eastern Shore

How long have you been playing? Since mid-2017, but my skill sets were more suited to hosting and running events than playing in them. Then I got tired of losing  to some of my club peers, told my husband to teach me the flat spin, and now I can hold my own. Sort of. Most of the time.

What’s your favorite thing about the sport – community.  Never in my life have I witnessed, experienced, been a part of such an amazing evolution of like-minded people gathering around a common purpose: bean bags for adults with beer. Or wine, or Booze. Pick!

What cornhole brings to your life? I don’t do cliques. Never have, never will. Yet cornhole includes such a phenomenally diverse group of people from all over that the interest, the spark of ”new” excitement never gets old.   WILL never get old!   From the frown on my opponent’s face when my partner sinks an airmail, better, the “OMG Holy shit!” moment in my partner’s face when I sink a 12-pack (rare, but it happens!) This sport allows any one of us to claim our righteous shots!  There are “A” players, always at top of the heap, advanced, gracious, knowledgeable and kind and patient and compassionate with all other skill levels. And then there are the assholes —always a few—who eventually self-exclude because they are not welcome here.  And THAT is one of the cornhole dynamics I find utterly and truly amazing because in other group dynamics, the asshole tends to stick around, as if “civilized” people ignore the asshole hoping he or she will just go away.  Soo, we cornholios are not civilized?!?  On the contrary. I believe we are more civilized than we give ourselves credit for because we do not tolerate the jerks.

Any other Info that may be relevant- I played a few seasons of rugby, women’s and men’s teams practiced together, and the coaches always said the women played a much prettier game, far more technically accurate than the men’s teams because the women did not “muscle-it” like the men did.   I believe women are more open to suggestion, collaboration, participative efforts, hence are more open to coaching and as such have improved their game exponentially in a very short period of time.  Two of my favorite gals in CA just bested two pros at an ACL regional event!  

As a kid I played sports, tried them all, but never really liked the required practice sessions (for ex, I qualified for 1st string doubles tennis freshman year at college, but hated the 5:30 am practices so stopped), yet women still to this day despite Title IX federal legislation are not really truly encouraged to participate in seriously competitive sports past the K-12 school years.   Men have had centuries of life’s practice just being bigger, stronger, and muscle-ing things, hence the collective assumption that women can’t be strong because we just aren’t as strong as men (face it! While I dead-lifted 250 lbs my senior yr in high school, to this day I’ll slide a new glass jar of pickles across the counter to my husband and he instinctively knows to open it! Ok, so maybe I have him trained…) so we women are – or have learned to be? more strategic about problem solving, logistics, multi-tasking…and as long as women bear the lion’s share of child-rearing, child care (and now elder-care, too) women are and will continue to be conditioned to respond to others’ needs, often sublimating their own personal needs. Yet these tenets are by no means absolutes —I tend to look out for myself first, my husband will look out for others, first—

Cornhole has given me an arena in which to truly, fully, just be me, “let my hair down”.

Cathy Emerson

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