He won the world championship in July, but Crozet’s young horseshoe prodigy isn’t one to rest on his laurels. Since the summer, Eli Sullivan has defended his state title as well, making him the three-time winner in Virginia’s cadet division. He’s also won tournaments in West Virginia and North Carolina.
Eli practices and competes with the Stuarts Draft Horseshoe Club, which recognized him at the end-of-season celebration, and he travels for tournaments sanctioned by the National Horseshoe Pitchers Association. Closer to home, he was honored last month at his new school, Henley Middle School, with an award for persistence and patience, Henley’s first such award. When he received the award from Principal LaRuth Ensley, he demonstrated a few of his horseshoe moves and had some words of advice: “Never give up,” he said. “Keep working hard and eventually you’ll win.”
The unassuming 11-year-old has plenty of persistence and patience, but he’s developed some other qualities that serve him well, said his friend and fellow competitor Heath Shawn. “It’s gotten so he draws a crowd whenever he pitches,” Shawn said. “So now he’s always under pressure, but it doesn’t faze him. He has nerves of steel.”
The champ is able to travel to tournaments thanks to the sponsorship of Parkway Pharmacy, Red Line Construction, Crozet Hardware, and Staunton’s Virginia Quality Grow Supplies. Shawn said additional sponsors are welcome to help send Eli to the 2023 world championship in Lansing, Michigan next summer. Find out more about sponsorship and horseshoe events at Eli Sullivan Horseshoes Facebook page.