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Pitch Perfect

Caitlin Rickard • Updated Aug 9, 2013 at 5:14 PM

MT. JULIET – Joan Elmore said she was still exhausted from her most recent trip to St. George, Utah. However, for Elmore this trip wasn’t about relaxing.

Elmore was competing for her fifth consecutive title in the National Horseshoe Pitchers Association World Championship Tournament, to which she has won a total of six times.

She said competitors pitch five games a day for six days during the tournament, with the first three days qualifying rounds for the championship.

“In just one day in the championship you can pitch upwards of 500 shoes in a day,” Elmore said.

Ultimately, Elmore finished in second place with one ringer keeping her out of the playoff for the championship.

Elmore said the highlight for her was setting the world record for pitching a perfect game.

“It is the only time in horseshoe record keeping history a woman has pitched a perfect game in the world championship,” Elmore said. “I didn’t miss a shoe, so I had 100 percent and made every ring.”

Elmore is also the 14-time Tennessee state champion and will be competing for her 15th state title in Crossville at the end of September.

“The competition is fierce right here in Tennessee,” Elmore said. “But anywhere I travel I do that to meet and compete with the top pitchers, which makes you a better pitcher.”

Elmore travels to regular tournaments throughout the year to get qualified for the World Championships and said just this year she competed in Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky and South Carolina, to name a few.

According to Elmore, horseshoes isn’t something she has always knew she wanted to do.

She said after her daughter left for college she felt she needed something to do to fill the “empty nest,” so she read about horseshoes and went to a tournament and ended up staying all day watching.

“I went back the next week and qualified. You have to pitch 100 shoes to qualify, but I qualified for the A class, which is the top class,” Elmore said.

Elmore said like most people she had pitched horseshoes at family picnics, but never competed.

“I guess I’m just a natural,” Elmore said. “I surprised even myself.”

Elmore also said she didn’t have one athletic bone in her body and she never played sports in high school.

“You’re never too old to play horseshoes. It’s great exercise and you get to meet people from all walks of life and make lasting friends that go on after horseshoes,” Elmore said.

Besides meeting people, Elmore also said horseshoes has allowed her to travel and do things she otherwise probably never would have had the chance to do.

“This year with the World Championship being in Utah I got to see the Grand Canyon and who knows if I ever would have been able to visit there,” Elmore said.

Locally, Elmore said something she would like to see happen is for Charlie Daniels Park in Mt. Juliet to have horseshoe courts.

“I’ve talked to the city about it and, to me, there’s room and it would be great place to have leagues,” Elmore said. “I think it would bring in all ages and some schools around state have horseshoe clubs so they could use the park to practice or compete. That’s something I would dream to have in this area; I think it would really catch on.”

The next World Championships are next year in Buffalo, N.Y.

Elmore said she has a competitive streak in her, and that she’ll definitely be back to continue competing.

“If I start doing anything I’m going to do the best I can. You can’t go into any tournament thinking you can lose. You have to think you can win, and if you don’t you’ll know you gave it your best try,” Elmore said. “You either win or you lose, it’s all up to you how you pitch.”

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