With football, hockey, basketball and a whole list of other active teams in Sooke, there is no shortage of sports in this town. Soon, competitive horseshoes will also be thrown into the mix.
Construction began this month on 20,000 sq. ft. of horseshoe courts and parking on land currently occupied by brush and trees adjacent to Fred Milne Park on Sooke River Road.
“We hope to get everything cleared off this fall and possibly get some grass seed put in and just make it like a park,” said Rick Hobday, who’s heading the project. “In the spring, we’re going to start putting the pits in, we’ll probably be playing next spring.”
Hobday has been playing horseshoes for over 10 years, and is part of a four-man team with Gordon Butts, Fred Shambrook and District of Sooke Coun. Ron Dumont. The quartet currently plays at the Victoria Horseshoe Club off of Glanford Ave.
“It’s a long way to drive every time you want to go in to play,” he said.
The game involves trying to throw a cast iron horseshoe — literally what it sounds like, although modern incarnations are much larger than the traditional horseshoes that were used — onto a stake, or peg, in the ground. The object is to throw a “ringer,” or a horseshoe that completely encircles the peg.
The land was originally going to be used to create a parking lot to accommodate the overflow of cars on game days at Fred Milne. The idea of a park was introduced, and then Hobday said why not incorporate both and have horseshoe pits put in with parking all around. Dumont pitched the idea to council, who approved.
Initially, eight courts will be put in, with another eight on the way. Butts said eventually they’d like to get a total of 24 built, so that they can host provincial and national championships like the Victoria club. Before anything can be officially built though, there is still one thing to be done.
“We have a $3,000 grant from the district — basically what we’re waiting for right now is the change from agricultural use to non-farm use for the land so we can start constructing pits (rectangular area around the peg). But in the meantime, we’re just clearing this off and cutting down the trees.”
Known as the Sooke Horseshoe Pitching Club, they will start recruiting members of all ages soon. Butts said he was particularly interested in trying to get juniors to come out and play the game, since the demographic for the game tends to be older. The club is also looking for volunteers.
“There’s going to be all kinds of work,” said Hobday. There doesn’t have to be any kind of commitment, there will be people working on Tuesday and Thursday mornings from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. “If they come down, somebody will be here.”