The September 14th edition of the Reading Eagle newspaper featured a large photo and introduction about the 2004 World Quoit Tournament printed on the front page of the newspaper. The photo shows Jerry Reitmeyer as he peers through a quoit at the camera. Ironically, the story immediately below about Hurricane Ivan became an foreboding omen of the mess it would make on tournament day, forcing postponement of the WQC until October 3rd.
The main story began on page B1 with a great close-up pit-level photo of Jerry pitching a quoit at the pin. The story was continued on page B3.
(Photo at right:) Jerry Reitmeyer of Pottstown, a member of the United States Quoiting Association, is among those who hope Saturday's quoit tournamnet in Amity Township will boost the sport's popularity.
Are You Ready for Some Quoits?
(C)2004 Reading Eagle Company
More difficult than horseshoes. Not as strenuous as basketball. Like throwing a donut around an upright pencil. The game is quoits and that's how participants in the so-called 2004 World Quoit Championship - to take place in Amity Township on Saturday - describe it. The event is attracting teams from Berks and beyond to compete in a sport that may or may not have it's roots in ancient Greece and is said to have been played by Pennsylvania Germans in the 19th Century.
Full coverage on B1.
'That's a Ringer!'
Quoits tourney aims to
advance regional sport
Outside of southeastern Pennsylvania, challenging someone to a game of quoits usually brings a confused stare or the question, “What are quoits?”
Horseshoes - a cousin to quoits - is the picnic game of choice across most of America. But in Berks County and nearby, many grew up playing quoits at outdoor gatherings. They quickly fell in love with the game, which requires accuracy and skill to toss iron discs known as quoits onto short pegs sticking from the ground.
Some quoit players enjoy the sport so much they play year round, even shoveling snow from their yards to play in the winter. But freezing weather presents at least one hazard.
“If your hand gets wet, it will stick to the quoit, so you have to be careful,” said Jerry L. Reitmeyer of Pottstown.
Reitmeyer is a member of the United States Quoiting Association, a group of local quoit enthusiasts who are always looking to boost the game’s popularity. To that end, the association will hold what it is calling the 2004 World Quoit Championship in Amity Township on Saturday. The event held for the first time last year is considered by organizers to be the largest of its kind.
"This year there should be 80 to 100 teams, including some from outside the area," said Troy G. Frey of Mount Joy, Lancaster County, a founding member of the association. The top eight teams will split $2,000 in cash prizes. “The whole idea is to make the sport more popular around the country,” Frey said.Though there is disagreement about the origin of quoits, most feel the game derived from the Greek sport of discus throwing. Early forms of quoits were played in England, and the game eventually made its way to Colonial America, becoming especially popular in farming regions.
"Pennsylvania-German settlers played quoits in the 19th century," said Dr. David L. Valuska, director of the Pennsylvania German Cultural Heritage Center at Kutztown University. “Quoits was a game that was easy to play around a farm or in a rural community,” he said. "Since Berks still has a strong Pennsylvania-German heritage, that may explain the popularity of the game here, with fathers passing it down to their sons," he said.
"It is a great game for those whose competitive juices still flow, but who don’t necessarily want to play a sport as strenuous as basketball," said Ken Kaas of Boyertown, chairman of the quoiting association. “You can enjoy the competition without hurting yourself,” he said.
The object of standard American quoits is to throw the discs usually weighing 4 pounds at short pegs 21 feet away. Quoit throwers are known as pitchers, and they usually compete as two-person teams. The quoits have holes in the middle, and landing one on a peg brings the pitcher three points, known as a ringer. Quoits landing within a few inches of the pin bring a single point, known as a penny. A quoit leaning against the (top of the) pin brings two points.“It’s like trying to throw a donut on a pencil,” said Michael H. Mosera, who will host the championship. "The first team to reach 21 points wins, but teams have to win by two points." Watching several friends practicing at the tournament site, Mosera had to speak above the ping of quoits striking pins and the occasional whoop of a pitcher making a ringer. “Quoits takes skill, but some of these guys are really good,” he said. “When they get on a roll they can lay on one ringer after another.”
While there are only a few places in America where quoits are played, that is mainly because most have never tried the sport, said Frey, who operates the Web site www.quoitpits.com. “If you play once, you’ll want to play all the time,” he said.
While quoits and horseshoes may seem like similar games, to aficionados they are as different as the tango and break dance. Most quoit players think the open-ended horseshoes make it easier to get ringers, and that quoits require more precision and strategy.
“Horseshoes are ungainly, and they bounce around when they hit the ground,” said Pottstown native Troy Wolf. “Quoits is more controlled and precise, and that’s part of the allure.”
Wolf and his brother, Ian Wolf, live in Phoenix but plan to fly in just for the tournament. The brothers also started a quoit league in Arizona that is growing gradually. Nobody in Phoenix had heard of quoits before the Wolfs arrived, but once they play, they love it, Troy said.
Kaas hopes the local tournament will grow each year and introduce more people to quoits.
“Each year guys will go home and tell their friends about the tournament, then they will come,” he said. “We love quoits, and we think other people will too.”
Contact reporter Mike Urban at 610-371-5023 or firstname.lastname@example.org.