Disc golfers to participate in fifth Champaign County Ice Bowl

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Courtesy of Wilbur Wallis

A team participating in the 4th annual Ice Bowl tosses a shot toward the basket.

By Maria Rubin De Celis

When a group of avid Frisbee golfers discovered Champaign County’s food insecurity rate, they wanted to use their passion for disc golf in a way that helped others.

“The food insecurity rate right here in Champaign County is over 17 percent. The statewide statistic is only about 13 percent, so the need right here in our community is very great,” said Kristen Bosch, vice president of development and community partnerships for the Eastern Illinois Foodbank. 

Inspired by national trends of other disc golfers, the team decided to host an ice bowl competition around five years ago. They’ve been tossing Frisbees into baskets ever since.

Disc golf, typically a game popular in the summer, will become a winter sport this Saturday at the 5th annual Champaign County Ice Bowl. The event will take place at Dodds Park DGC in Champaign, and check-in will be from 8:30-9:30 a.m. with games starting at 10 a.m. The bowl’s main purpose is to raise money for the Eastern Illinois Foodbank, a nonprofit organization dedicated to serving 17 counties in Illinois.

Bosch said that charity events like this are vital since the demand for food in the C-U area is high.

Just last year, the Champaign County Disc Golf Club became an official organization. Bryan Mentock, active board member and founder of the newly formed club, said the Ice Bowl is a fun way to impact the community. He said the money raised from the event helps the foodbank much more than a typical food drive would because the organization can purchase a higher quantity of goods with a cheaper price.

“It’s exponentially better for us to raise this money to give to the foodbank, so they can turn around and purchase food for those who need it, so it’s definitely a great thing for the community,” Mentock said. 

Raising money comes in the form of donations and the $60 buy-in for each team. Though typically people play disc golf individually, for this tournament, doubles is the standard. Mentock said that playing this way is better in ice bowls since the winter conditions are typically trying. 

“It’s more fun to do doubles during an ice bowl … and it’s nice to have a partner to rely upon,” Mentock said. 

Wilbur Wallis, president of the club and tournament director for the Champaign County Ice Bowl, said there are roughly 25 teams signed up to play this weekend, and the turn-out is always very successful. For instance, just last year the club raised $2,248, according to their website. Those interested in participating are welcome to sign-up until the games begin on Saturday morning. 

Bosch said the tournament is always very helpful to the Eastern Illinois Foodbank’s cause. 

“Events like the disc golf tournament allow (the Eastern Illinois Foodbank) to subsidize our small nonprofit and really be able to provide food for those who need it most,” Bosch said.

The instance of the Champaign County Ice Bowl is merely one event in a bigger Ice Bowl organization. The nationwide organization encourages raising awareness of disc golf through charitable efforts to alleviate hunger. Since the organization’s start in 1996, it has raised over 3.1 million dollars total for hunger relief.

Wallis said the Champaign County Disc Golf Club’s efforts to contribute to the cause are backed with passion and enthusiasm by many, and hopes to continue the tournament for years to come.

“There are just way too many people that go hungry, and there’s no need for that. We’re just a small group, but we do what we can to help — and we have a good time doing it,” Wallis said.

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