When she was a young girl growing up in the mountains, Alla Faye Monday began pitching mule shoes with her daddy in the backyard of their Morley home.
Four decades later, it’s safe to say that father taught daughter everything he knew and then some.
Mr. Monday passed away in 2005, but not before getting to see his little girl become one of the best horseshoe pitchers in Tennessee.
“He really encouraged me to play,” said Alla Faye, who comes from a large family of four brothers and four sisters.
“We would all just get together on Sundays and pitch in the backyard.”
Alla Faye Monday has won a whopping 409 trophies over the years. That includes the 1993 Tennessee Women’s Class A Championship, the trophy of which she is most proud.
After pitching 156 ringers in six games to win the state title, she decided it was time to hang up her horseshoes while on top.
However, news that the National Horseshoe Pitchers Association of America 2012 World Tournament is coming to Knoxville next summer brought Alla Faye out of retirement.
“I love the game, and every time I hear horseshoes clanging I want to get right back out there and pitch,” said Alla Faye, who owns and operates a fitness gym just south of Jellico on state Hwy. 297.
“I’m hoping to represent Jellico (at world tournament), and the mayor (Les Stiers) is going to back me and do everything he can to help me.”
Horseshoes remains a male-dominated sport. Alla Faye says that out of every 30 competitors, only about three are women.
When Alla Faye first began competing, she often pitched shoes completely over the pit. That’s because she learned to pitch from 40 feet away, just like the men, while the women got to move up to 30 feet.
She also pitches with her right foot as her lead foot. Everyone else, she says, pitches from his or her left foot.
“Mostly I pitch against men because there are not too many women that play,” she said.
Alla Faye has both sand and clay pits at her home. She begins the day by pitching 50 shoes.
“I do that to keep in practice and get my arm limbered up,” she said.
Two weeks ago, Alla Faye pitched 134 ringers in six games during a competition at Asbury Park in Caryville.
In order to stay sharp this winter, she plans to have an indoor pit installed at her gym.
Since day one, Alla Faye had three goals in mind: win 100 trophies, compete for a state title, and go to the world tournament.
Mission almost accomplished.
Alla Faye will reach her final goal July 30-Aug. 11, 2012 when she joins over a thousand other horseshoe pitchers from the United States, Canada and abroad for the world tournament at the Knoxville Convention Center.
This will be Tennessee’s first time to host the event.
“I’ve wanted to go (to world tournament) every single year, and next year it’s going to be the closest it’s ever been to Jellico,” said Alla Faye.
“Usually, whenever I set a goal, I try to keep it.”
Her daddy would be proud.