Brown scores another ringer with horseshoe hall of fame

BRISTOL RESIDENT DEBRA Brown was inducted into the National Horseshoe Pitching Association’s Hall of Fame in July. Over four decades of throwing horseshoes she has reaped multiple state, regional and world titles.
Photo courtesy of Mike Brown

BRISTOL — Bristol horseshoe pitcher Debra Brown has been throwing horseshoes for over 40 years, picking up a plethora of state, regional and world championship titles along the way. Earlier this summer, Brown’s contributions to the sport were immortalized when she was inducted into the National Horseshoe Pitching Hall of Fame.

When she heard of her nomination, Brown said she was overwhelmed with emotion.

“I just immediately cried because it was a culmination of so much hard work,” she said. “I was very happy and grateful.”

Brown first got into horseshoe pitching in the fall of 1980. Her husband Mike’s participation in the sport led her to try her hand at pitching, and she found herself quickly getting the hang of it.

Since then, Brown has been an active member of the Sodbuster Horseshoe Pitching Club, which she and her husband now help host in Bristol. She’s held multiple officer positions during her time in the club, serving as secretary, tournament director, league director and now president. Brown is also an officer for the Vermont State Horseshoe Pitchers Association, for which she helps coordinate the association’s Junior Program.

This isn’t the first time Brown’s hard work has paid off. She has won 23 state championships, nine New England championships and in 2015 won the women’s world championship title at the National Horseshoe Pitching Association’s World Horseshoe Tournament in Topeka, Kan. It was her competitive performance in World Horseshoe Tournaments such as that one that earned Brown her induction into the Hall of Fame.

Brown first pitched in the world tournament in 1983, though the peak of her pitching career took place between 2008 and 2015. During that seven-year stretch, Brown qualified for the women’s championship finals each year and pitched a ringer average of over 70%. From 2010 to 2015, Brown never placed lower than fourth at the world tournament.

“Debra has been a very tough competitor during her World Tournament appearances,” Hall of Fame Committee Chair Vicki Winston wrote in her announcement of Brown’s nomination.

Brown was officially inducted into the hall of fame on July 17 at this year’s world tournament in Monroe, La. She is the first Vermonter to receive the honor.

“You reach a pinnacle and it’s very satisfying,” Brown told the Independent following her induction. “Not many people can do it, and I am just thankfully blessed that I was one of them.”

Brown attributes a large part of her success to the time and effort she’s devoted to the sport over the years. At the height of her pitching career, Brown said she would throw 100 horseshoes a day at least five days a week before a big competition.

She also credits the support of her family.

“My husband plays a big role in my success because he is always proud of what I do. Also, we have a big family of horseshoe pitchers, and we are always there for each other,” she said.

Looking back on her 42 years of horseshoe pitching, Brown said there is one thing that she’s enjoyed most.

“All the people, the camaraderie, the families that come out and play,” she said.

Among those people are members of Brown’s family, including a niece and nephew Brown introduced to the sport. That niece, Brianna McCormick, has been a Sodbusters Club member since 2005 and gone on to win eight state championships of her own and was 2012 World Junior Champion.

FOR WORLD CHAMPION horseshoe pitcher Debra Brown (right), family is a huge part of the sport. Brown takes a break from practice with her niece Brianna McCormick; both are members of the Sodbuster Horseshoe Pitching Club and hold state, regional and world titles for their horseshoe pitching.
Independent photo/Steve James

In recent years, Brown has participated in fewer tournaments due to injuries. Though she said she is enjoying putting her energy toward training youth horseshoe pitchers. Her role in coordinating the Vermont State Horseshoe Pitchers Association’s junior program has allowed her a front row seat in watching the next generation learn the sport, a group that now includes one of her granddaughters.

“It gives me great joy to watch her and all of the other little cadets play,” she said. “We just try to keep it going.”

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