Jernigans carry on world-class domino tradition

Published 4:04 pm Thursday, August 10, 2023

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Emma Cate and Maggie Jernigan, daughters of T.J. and Jodie Jernigan, love playing dominoes. They learned the game from their father, who was taught by his father, James Jernigan, and enjoy carrying on the family of playing the table game in their home as well as competing, and winning, in the 47th annual World Championship Domino Tournament.

This year, the sisters represented their family in the teen and children’s division at the 47th annual tournament held in Andalusia on July 7-8.

“It was a successful weekend of domino playing for Emma Cate and Maggie,” said their mom, Jodie Jernigan. 

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The girls, who are granddaughters of Georgiana residents James and Patricia Jernigan, both earned first-place trophies in their respective divisions of the double’s tournament. Emma Cate and her partner, Hutch Scott from Opp, took first place in Teen Doubles and Emma Cate also placed fourth in Teen Singles.

Maggie and her partner, Holly Knight from Headland, placed first in Children’s Doubles for the third year in a row. Maggie also won second place in the Children’s Singles division.

“Playing dominoes is a family tradition that started with their Pop, James Jernigan, who taught their dad to play when he was a child. T.J. started competing at the tournament when he was 9 years old, as did his sister, Jennifer Coker,” Jodie said. 

Both Jennifer and T.J. went on to win or place in every division, from children’s up through adults, for the next forty years, Jodie explained. Coker’s children, Virginia and Charleston Coker, also compete and have placed in all divisions starting at around age 9.

“Our family really enjoys seeing our kids carry on the love of the game and winning is a bonus,” Jodie said. “Making new friends, catching up with old friends we met at previous tournaments, and seeing our kids having fun is what keeps us coming back each year. We hope by teaching friends to play and spreading the word of the tournament, more and more people will come to love this favorite pastime as we do.”

The tournament, sponsored by the Andalusia Rotary Club, is held the second weekend of July each year in Andalusia. The first tournament was held in 1976 and has continued every year since then except 2020, when it was canceled due to COVID-19 pandemic-related gathering restrictions.

According to the event website, event proceeds have funded more than $55,000 for local, regional, and national charities in 2023. Registration fees vary based on age division and class, singles or doubles, or players, with early-bird registration available until July 1 each year.

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