The Sooke Horseshoe Pitching Association has had a good year.

Sooke horseshoe pitchers hoping for youth movement

The association began the drive to increase its membership when the season ended last month

Sierra Hitchins is the future of the Sooke Horseshoe Pitching Association.

The Sooke girl is a Canadian champion in horseshoe pitching, and represents the young athletes the association wants to attract as it heads into the future.

“It’s our future and we have to get them involved,” said association past-president Rick Hobday. “The ones we do have are excited to play.”

The association has completed its first year of operation, and has produced three Canadian champions: Hitchins (pee wee), Chantel Wilson (women) and Steve Bishop (seniors).

But the association is not resting on its laurels yet.

The association began the drive to increase its membership when the season ended last month by offering free horseshoe lessons on Tuesday afternoons from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. and from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. on Saturdays.

Edward Milne Community School physical education classes have also been invited to the local pitches and helped with maintenance, such as weed control.

It’s been an evolution of the horseshoe pitching association.

A year ago, the association didn’t have any pits constructed. It now boasts six pits and hope to add another six this spring, Hobday said.

The membership has also increased from 10 members to 27 since June.

“For what we have, we did well. We’ve received praise from clubs from around B.C.,” Hobday said.

“I would like to have a few more members show up for joining the competitions, tournaments.”

Coun. Kevin Pearson, who has been a backer of the development of the horseshoe pitches, is happy to see the association has become successful.

“We’ve come to a good conclusion. My disappointment is the time it took to get there,” said Pearson, referring to the controversy surrounding the horseshoe pitch location.

This week the horseshoe pitching association will meet with the District of Sooke in hopes of renegotiating its lease on the Sooke River Road property. It wants a three- to five-year extension and construct a clubhouse or shed at the north end of the property.

“They’re at the embryonic stage of developing a membership and as a club they want to take the worry off their plate about that longevity,” Pearson said.

“If it’s been successful so far, why wouldn’t we [the district] want to enter into a long-term agreement, so they can plan for the future?”