Kaylee Hunter, ACL Pro, Interview

When you make it to the finals or the broadcast what is the game like? Are you nervous?

Kaylee: Yes, in Kansas, I was nervous just about the whole time because it was my first broadcast experience. So I kind of felt like all eyes were on me and the lights and everything. The boards were kind of slick to me. So when there’s fast boards and nerves at the same time, it’s not a very good combination for me.

How do you handle your nerves? Do you listen to music? 

Kaylee: Well at my first game on the broadcast court, I didn’t listen to any music, but my partner Yetty did so, and all I could hear was just the commentators… Oh, if she puts in this last four bagger… So I’ll just start thinking about that. And then after that first game, Yetty was like, why don’t you try putting headphones in and listen to music? And it really helps a lot for me, at least

What do you listen to you when you do listen to music?

Kaylee: Well, before then, I really wasn’t prepared for that. Like I didn’t have a playlist or anything, but mostly rap music or something that has a beat. It can’t be slow or anything just to like, kinda like get me in the groove or whatever. 

So what about when you’re not playing cornhole? Do you have a favorite genre? Is it also rap? 

Kaylee: Um, country mostly 

Give us the steps to become pro so that we can emulate it and we can get to where you are one day.

Kaylee: Okay. So first I just kind of knew cornhole was like just a cookout game, you know, like backyard, nothing too serious. And then that’s kind of where it started. I went to a cookout at my dad he’s played more cook outs and stuff with his friends. And then of course Jamie introduced me to the game, but it started at a cookout and his sponsor, Jason Cannon, was there and he was like, Hey, Kaylee, you know, the King of cornhole is coming. And I was like, what… there is a King of cornhole? Like I had no idea there was even such a thing. 

And then he showed up and I was watching him throw. And he was putting them all in the hole and I was hitting the side of the board, just like everywhere with my bag, because I didn’t even know it was that serious. And then he just started talking to me like, you know, you can play competitively. 

Cornhole kinda came natural to me because I was softball pitcher. So the underhand motion kind of came natural. So basically he just invited me to play in a tournament. And my first big tournament was in Alabama. I played in the women’s division and then this year is my first year of pro. So I’d say I’ve been playing for about two and a half to three years competitively.

What’s your practice schedule like? How serious was cornhole within your life while you were improving to get from your first tournament to, you know, where, where you first became pro?

Kaylee: Well, before I actually went to the Alabama tournament, there’s blind draws weekly, locally. I just went to go play a few of those, practice playing in like game time situations. And then, I don’t know, like, just basically that, because every night of the week around here, there’s somewhere to play, like a blind draw, quite a bit of people that show up. But other than that, it’s just throwing either in the driveway or my dad has a shop for his work and I get to set up boards in there when it’s like too cold or the weather is not that great. 

When I went to Alabama, I was like the 49th seat or something like that and I ended up getting third and lost to Samantha Finley and Courtney Coy, which are two top women players now. And that was my first big tournament, like ever. And I was like, you know, this is my first tournament and I’m getting third. Maybe I should work into it, keep playing, you know, cause I just started playing it more. I kind of like got like hooked on it after that.

So I, can’t not bring up the fact that you date somebody who’s very prominent within the cornhole community and also a beast at the board ACL pro Jamie Graham. How, how long have you been together, how did you meet and all that

Kaylee: So we’ve been together for two and a half years so far. And it always helps when I’m practicing that I get to play against one of the best, even though I lose a lot more but it does definitely make me better. And it just helps, because being a pro, you have to travel all the time. And not just even a national, like regionals, we drive at least two or three hours to go play in regionals. It just helps like having him with me and, you know, get to travel together and both play the game that we were addicted to. 

His main sponsor is my dad’s best friend, so it’s kind of weird how it happened, but we did meet at that tournament that day when I first started throwing.

Was it instinct chemistry or did one of you pursue the other more?

Kaylee: Oh, no. Like really when we first met I didn’t really think anything of dating or anything. I was just like, just amazed. Like there’s a cornhole king. What?

How often do you guys practice?

Kaylee: Um, he practices a lot more than me because I have school. So, throughout the week, I’m pretty much loaded with school. And then I also like to work out a lot at the gym. So it’s school and gym. And then sometimes in between that I can try to fit in cornhole. But other than like, when I’m not in school, I practice a lot, like try to every day or every other day. I like to run and, you know, weights and stuff, cardio…

How do you guys handle the competitiveness? Like do you play single sometimes instead of just going out and practicing and throwing bags or does that get too dicey in terms of relationship?

Kaylee: Um, well we usually just start off throwing and then every time we practice, we at least, you know, play a singles game, but sometimes it gets out of hand cause I get really frustrated just because I’m so competitive. And like, I don’t care that he’s like top three or whatever you want to call it. Like, I get so mad when I lose it doesn’t matter who it is, but that’s what makes me better. So yeah. 

Have you ever beat him?

Kaylee: One time. It was like the greatest day ever, but he doesn’t like take it easy, which I don’t want him to, so like he takes it like he’s playing against Matt Guy, but it’s, you know, it’s me, but even the driveway. And that’s when I beat him. So if you ask him, if I ever beat him, he says, yes, but you know, in a driveway, that doesn’t count. Which you know, I think it does. He says it only counts if it’s at a tournament, you know.

Do you have another favorite sport or hobby other than cornhole?

Kaylee: Well in high school I really kind of played all of them: volleyball, basketball and softball, but my most favorite was softball. Now it’s just cornhole pretty much.

What are you studying and how do you possibly balance all that?

Kaylee: I’m studying radiography. So right now, like I said, during the week, it’s pretty much all school and when I’m not at school, I have to study just because it’s really so much. But thankfully April 30th is like my last day of the semester. So when I leave for Vegas tomorrow, I’m taking an exam in Vegas before cornhole. So that’ll be fun. But during school it’s really hard to practice as much as I want and play as much as I want. Like as much as I love cornhole, I have to put school first because it’s my priority. I can’t live off of cornhole money. That’s just not going to happen. So it’s like, well, as of right now, but you know, always have to have a backup plan. 

What would you hope to do with your degree ultimately?

Kaylee: So radiography, radiology, it’s the same thing, but it’s like, x-rays, MRIs, I specifically want to be an ultrasound technician, so that’s just what I want.

Do you have a lot of friends that you have time to hang out with at home and then have you made friends out there in the pro circuit?

Kaylee: Yes. Just in cornhole I’ve met so many people. It’s like a cornhole family rather than in, yes. I do have friends still from school that when I have time, you know, cause mostly on the weekends I’m playing cornhole.

Do you hang out with anybody we’d know on the pro tour circuit?

Kaylee: Um, well of course my partners, Sarah and Yetty and Jamie and Isabella.

What’s your favorite bag? 

Kaylee: I kind of like a variety, it kind of depends on the board conditions that day. Like if they’re slow or fast, that kind of depends on my choice, but um, I’ve started to like the BG Vikings. Yeah. And I like the new steady game-changers that just came out. I’m really starting to like those a lot. 

What was the bag you started with at that first tournament?

Kaylee: Uh, the first tournament was ACO. So this is back when they provided bags. So you couldn’t bring your own. But after that it was, um, Reynolds because that was the popular bag, like before game changers and stuff. 

What’s date night for you and Jamie, is it always corn hole centered or is it something else?

Kaylee: Um, I’m going to say mostly cornhole. But we like to go to, well, his favorite restaurant is Buffalo Wild Wings. I actually like it too. And anywhere at the beach. We love the beach. 

If money didn’t matter whatsoever and you could change anything about your daily life or your life in general, because money wasn’t a factor. What would you change? What would your life look like? Would it look different? And if so, how? Would you still live in North Carolina?

Kaylee: Probably not. I don’t know really. Yeah, I kind of like the idea (of an island playing cornhole). I’d probably just want to travel everywhere honestly, to see different places. But yeah, an Island sounds very nice. 

Who is the more hot tempered one? Is one of you really chill and one of you is more emotional?

Kaylee: Definitely me. I’m definitely more emotional. He’s kind of like laid back and calm.

Are there any like quirky habits he has or anything like that? 

Kaylee: I feel like in the moment I can just rant and go on. Like, especially when I’m really mad, but like when you ask me, it’s kind of hard, I guess that’s a good thing though. 

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