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    Missouri Air National Guardsman ranked top cornhole player in state

    Missouri Air National Guardsman ranked top cornhole player in state

    Photo By Staff Sgt. Adrian Brakeley | Staff Sgt. Johnny Cox is a recruiter with the 131st Bomb Wing, Missouri Air National...... read more read more

    KNOB NOSTER, MO, UNITED STATES

    06.02.2022

    Story by Staff Sgt. Adrian Brakeley 

    131st Bomb Wing

    Staff Sgt. Johnny Cox of the Missouri Air National Guard’s 131st Bomb Wing has risen through the ranks of the professional American Cornhole League to become the state’s top professional player, all while serving as a full-time member of the Wing’s recruiting team. Originally from Warrensburg, Cox joined the Missouri Air National Guard at 18 years old, and has served in many positions before becoming a recruiter.

    “Everyone in this office made me want to be a recruiter because they have such an enthusiastic and tight-knit group here,” Cox said. “I would say that you decide your own fate, and your work is based on how well you can recruit and meet your goals. I was really drawn to that.”

    He first discovered his talent for the game while tailgating before a Kansas City Royals game.

    “Ever since then, I've been hooked,” he said when asked about that day. “It seemed like it came pretty easy to me. Then I started playing with my brothers-in-law, and we would bet against each other and stuff, so it got really competitive.”

    That competitiveness served them well when they eventually started participating in tournaments, winning some of the first ones they entered, but those winnings weren’t the only lure. He was drawn further into the sport because of the fellowship and overall good-natured feeling of the events.

    “It's such a great atmosphere. It's a sport that everybody counts as a backyard game where people go and they just have fun, and honestly, it's the same way at tournaments,” he said. “I mean, it's a little more serious at tournaments, but I’d say it still has that same feeling, kind of like a second family.” He likens this to his experience in the Air National Guard, remarking, “I know some people nationwide from the pro tournaments and stuff, and I'd say that I look at it as like a big family, just like the Guard.”

    Cox is grateful that he is able to pursue his ambitions while excelling as a recruiter.

    “He basically has that latitude to do whatever he needs to do on the cornhole side,” said Master Sgt. Jarrett Rassmussen, Cox’s supervisor. “That’s what’s amazing about him, his professionalism and his focus on the job. Cornhole hasn’t interrupted his focus on his duties with the Air National Guard, especially as a recruiter.”

    Master Sgt. Rassmussen and the rest of the recruiting team have even taken the time to attend Cox’s statewide tournaments and practices. For Cox, he says his career as a Guardsman has helped his focus and attention to detail on the court, giving him a necessary edge over other competitors.

    Cox said that in direct contrast to his opposition, “I'm taking leave at work and stuff like that to go play these tournaments. I feel like I take it a lot more seriously than the other guys, like the top players.”

    In the sport, concentration and consistency make all the difference, and Cox believes his experience outside of the sport has helped hone these skills. His first season as a professional player came in 2021, a spot he had to earn by competing in the local tournament circuit.

    The slogan of the American Cornhole League is, “Anyone Can Play, Anyone Can Win,” and it’s certainly true of Staff Sgt. Cox’s first foray into the professional side of the game. “Last year I wasn’t a pro, but anyone can go to nationals, and I got to play against the number one ranked player in the nation in a tournament, and I actually beat him,” he said. “I’d say that one match… kind of made it to where I thought, ‘Oh, maybe I can be a pro, too.’”

    Dedication and effort has led Cox to compete in other tournaments, such as the US Armed Forces Tournament, which aired live on national television.

    “'I’ve actually played in it the last two years. The very first year we lost 21-0 to Army guys, so we got skunked in our first game on TV. That one hurt.” he recalled. “The next year we went back, but ended up losing in the championship and got second place.”

    Despite losses and close wins, Staff Sgt. Cox remains optimistic.

    “Hopefully, I am going to play [the Armed Forces Tournament] again this year, and I’m hoping to finally take first.”

    So what else is next for the state champ? Now age 25 with more than two years of experience, Staff Sgt. Cox is confident he can remain a professional cornhole player (a title which has to be earned annually) and keep his position as the state’s top dog. His goals don’t just include winning future tournaments, though. His hope is that he can act as a representative of the Air National Guard in the sport and get its support for his professional goals while continuing to serve.

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    NEWS INFO

    Date Taken: 06.02.2022
    Date Posted: 06.03.2022 10:51
    Story ID: 422073
    Location: KNOB NOSTER, MO, US 
    Hometown: JEFFERSON CITY, MO, US
    Hometown: KANSAS CITY, MO, US
    Hometown: ST. LOUIS, MO, US
    Hometown: WARRENSBURG, MO, US

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    Downloads: 1

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