“Corn-a-Cop” connects Westport Police, Staples students

On May 22, the Westport Police Department worked with  the Teen Awareness Group and the Westport Youth Commission to engage in an afternoon of cornhole, a traditional backyard activity and now a professional sport.

Photo by Lucy Dockter '23

On May 22, the Westport Police Department worked with the Teen Awareness Group and the Westport Youth Commission to engage in an afternoon of cornhole, a traditional backyard activity and now a professional sport.

Lucy Dockter ’23, Paper News Editor

What used to be a backyard game is now a professional sport. Although Cornhole has moved on to the big leagues, it remains a fun and safe activity that brings together the Westport community. 

Members of the Westport Police Department and Staples High School student body gathered at Jesup Green in downtown Westport on Saturday, May 22 to compete in a town-wide cornhole tournament and inaugurated what might become a new Westport tradition: Corn-a-Cop. Every year, the Westport Youth Commission (WYC) and Teen Awareness Group (TAG) organize Dodge-a-Cop, a police-student dodgeball game. However, this year, due to COVID restrictions, cornhole, played outdoors with limited physical contact, proved to be a safer option. 

“We needed an event that promoted social distancing during the pandemic,” Adam Chusid, an adult member of WYC, said. “Cornhole is also the best sport ever. You don’t have to be truly athletic [to play]. You just have to be able to come and have a good time and throw a bag.”

The event was designed to bring together local police and high school students, who often feel alienated from one another. By fostering relations between youth and police, it can be easier to deal with students–and their parents–if they make mistakes that demand police intervention, according to Chief Foti Koskinas. Student organizers echoed that sentiment.

“I think it’s important to know the police department and know they aren’t scary, and they are trying to help us,” Caroline Caggiano ’23, student leader and organizer of Corn-a-Cop, said. “It is important to get to know them as people before we know them as law enforcement.”

I think it’s important to know the police department and know they aren’t scary, and they are trying to help us. It is important to get to know them as people before we know them as law enforcement.”

— Caroline Caggiano '23

Detective Erin Shaw recalls the connections made with students from past dodgeball games when encountering them around town.

“I have met a lot of kids in the past through dodgeball that I run into again in the community, and it’s another familiar face,” Shaw said. “Hopefully, they feel the same.”

Shaw believes that it is important to build community between police and students in positive, fun interactions. 

“Other times when we interact with each other, it’s not always in the best circumstances,” she said.

According to Chief Kosinkas, in a typical year, the police and students have several events together, including volleyball games, pizza nights and dodgeball. He anticipates returning to more varied activities in the coming year and would like to see them as the norm, not highlights.

For Srushti Karve ’23, participating in cornhole was a pleasant way to spend a warm, sunny afternoon. 

“I found out about it through my friends,” Karve said. “[I] thought it was a cool thing to show up and meet new people and just have fun playing cornhole.”