The clanging of horse shoes rings out over Glanfield Park Tuesday nights as members of all ages take their pitching skills to the sand pit.
The park hosts the Greater Victoria Horseshoe Pitching Association (GVHPA), a club that’s been throwin’ shoes in the region since 1935.
Horseshoe pitching has players throw an iron horseshoe at a peg, with points awarded based on where it lands. It’s simple fun that almost anyone can play, but the ancient game – which has roots in the game of ‘quoits,’ a modification of discus throwing from Grecian times – doesn’t have an easy time attracting youth.
That’s why the GVHPA is working with local schools to get kids interested.
“We send letters to all the schools and give all the classrooms free lessons,” said junior program coordinator Bruce Bodnaruk. “We’re putting almost a thousand kids though every season.”
That free school program has already gotten some kids interested in the GVHPA’s youth club, which meets for weekly practices and travels to tournaments around B.C.
“It’s starting to pay off but it’s a long process,” Bodnaruk said. “There’s a lot of sports in Victoria.”
The peewee and junior teams have gone to tournaments in Port Alberni, Powell River, Ladysmith and beyond, as far north as Prince George. And the GVHPA has hosted a number of B.C. tournaments itself, as well as the Canadian Championships.
|Emily, 9, throws a horseshoe at the weekly peewee practice. She has been pitching horseshoes in the Greater Victoria Horseshoe Pitching Association for over three years. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)|
Some Greater Victoria pitchers are even headed to the horseshoe pitching World Tournament in Wichita Falls, Texas this summer, including junior Canadian champion Dalton Moffat.
“I like meeting people, and trying to win,” he said, when asked what got him into the sport. “It takes a long time to get good. You just have to focus on what you’re trying to do.”
Horseshoe pitching requires little equipment, and costs almost nothing, Bodnaruk said. In fact, the entry cost for youth who want to join the peewee or youth programs is only $10 a season.
“A lot of these kids don’t like the competitive team sports,” Bodnaruk said. “They just want to find something to do themselves and it’s an individual thing. That’s what they really like.”
It might be an individual sport, but the group of peewee pitchers enjoy socializing and playing around too.
“Come out and have fun, that’s what horse shoes is. After hundreds of years playing horseshoes in the backyard or on the farm – it’s still the same thing.”
|Lisa, 11, pitches a horseshoe during a Greater Victoria Horseshoe Pitching Association practice night at Glanford Park. The club is hoping to get more youth involved with a free school program. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)|