Horseshoe club looks to recruit

Published 9:55 pm Monday, April 25, 2016

George Maitland of Richmond won first place in his class during a tournament Saturday hosted by the Sleepy Hole Horseshoe Club.

George Maitland of Richmond won first place in his class during a tournament Saturday hosted by the Sleepy Hole Horseshoe Club.

The Sleepy Hole Horseshoe Club is on a campaign to recruit new — and younger — members.

The club, which grew from nine to 20 members over the past year, is hoping to woo a new generation by hosting a cornhole tournament this summer, club president Scott Fencil said during the Tri-Star Electric’s horseshoe tournament Saturday at Sleepy Hole Park. A date has not been finalized yet.

More than a dozen people — some coming from as far away as Richmond, Emporia and North Carolina — competed Saturday.

Email newsletter signup

The tournament was a National Horseshoe Pitchers Association-sanctioned event, with participants divided into four classes — A, B, C and D — based on their ability levels. First place in each class went to: A, George Maitland, Richmond; B, Carl Otto, Richmond; C, Johnnie Hayes, Richmond; and D, Leola Evans, Suffolk.

“Everything is all about cornhole now,” said Fencil, adding that he hopes cornhole players will also toss a few horseshoes.

“We want to attract younger members … with a special focus on families,” he said. “They are the future of the club and the sport.”

Sleepy Hole will waive the annual dues for anyone 18 and under who joins, he added. Adult dues are $27.

The club’s growth last year took a concerted marketing effort, Fencil said. The team got additional corporate sponsors and new matching shirts, and members were diligent about spreading the word.

During the season, which runs from March through October, the club meets every Monday from 5:45 to 7:30 p.m. and plays two or three games, at Sleepy Hole. Annual dues are $27 for adults. Membership is open to all.

“It’s relaxing and it’s good exercise,” said Sleepy Hole member DeForest Mapp.

Horseshoes are stereotypically portrayed as a men’s recreational sport. But they are a good game for the entire family, he said.

Women are among the team’s better players — and ironically, it’s probably because they have not been playing all their lives, Mapp said.

“Most women haven’t played long enough to have learned habits … and (we teach them) the correct way to play,” Mapp said. “It’s harder for men … who have played for years, to make changes or learn new techniques.”

Mapp grew up playing horseshoes at family outings and cookouts. He didn’t become a competitive player until about 10 years ago, after spotting local news coverage about a Portsmouth Horseshoe Club tournament.