SIOUX CITY -- The family that throws shiny, sharp objects together stays together.

That's the philosophy of Leroy Edwards, a Correctionville, Iowa, man who competed with three of his adult children Sunday at the 20th annual Midwest Dart Championship at the Sioux City Convention Center.

"It's more fun when you're playing darts with your kids," Edwards, who goes by the nickname "Grizz," said between sets. "You're in competition but you're bonding at the same time."

The Edwards family was among the 400 dart players competing for nearly $20,000 in cash and prizes in the event sponsored by the Midwest Tournament Association.

Players from Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska and South Dakota competed in singles, doubles and four-player teams since the three-day tournament started Friday, said league director Dan Lane.

"Darts is a great unifier because anyone can play the game," he said. "You don't have to be a star athlete in order to hit a bull's eye."

But the sport's harder than it looks, according to Edwards.

"Darts is something you practice until you're sick of practicing," the two-nights-a-week league player explained. "Then you need to practice some more."

That isn't to say that Edwards doesn't bring a few good luck charms for tournament play.

First, he makes sure to have darts that have tungsten carbide tips and, second, he brings his Alcoholics Anonymous 10-year sobriety chip.

"Once I stopped drinking, I think my aim got better," Edwards said with a smile. "Or, at least, it got a heckuva lot straighter."

For Telly Capell, a veteran darts player from Sioux Falls, there are no tricks of the trade.

"I can tell you to aim for the big numbers like 18, 19 or 20," Capell, a league dart player for more than 20 years, explained, "but it takes time to develop your groove."

With four years of dart league experience under her belt, Brody Cotarelo said she still hasn't found her sweet spot for the sport yet.

"My dart game's hit or miss, pun intended," she said, laughing.

So, what made the Omaha woman want to compete in her first out-of-state tournament?

"You mean beside the therapeutic feel one has when throwing things at the wall?" Cotarelo asked, jokingly. "You won't find a nicer bunch of people than you do at a dart tournament."

This is certainly true for Edwards, a father of five and grandfather of nine, with one on the way.

"It's tough when your kids move away and begin lives on their own," he said. "Darts bring my family together, and I wouldn't have it any other way."


CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story misspelled the name of Leroy Edwards. It has been corrected in this version.