The North Shore’s two lawn bowling clubs are gearing up to host one provincial and two national championships in the coming weeks.
With both the West Vancouver and North Vancouver Lawn Bowling Clubs’ greens packed as is with members hosting one summer charity tournament after another, club and city tournaments, as well as regular recreational bowling programs, it goes without saying it’s a hectic time for all involved, but that’s just the way they like it.
“Our two clubs are always busy,” says Tim Mason, adding as are clubs elsewhere in the province, similarly hosting a number of high-profile tournaments this year, making B.C. a bit of a lawn bowling hotbed at present.
Mason, a competitive lawn bowler, holds a number of roles in the lawn bowling community. In addition to serving as president of the West Vancouver Lawn Bowling Club, he’s also a marketing consultant with Bowls B.C. and a board member with Bowls Canada.
B.C.’s growing involvement in the sport speaks to the hard work and leadership of those involved, both on the greens as well as behind the scenes, out of an interest in growing the sport and attracting players of all ages and backgrounds.
“We’re really lucky, we’ve got so many people that are playing competitively, but also on the other side, the participation levels have increased from charity tournaments to social bowling to rec bowling leagues that are starting up,” says Mason.
“We’re lucky here on the Shore to have two great clubs with people that are eager to help out and volunteer their time,” he adds.
The West Vancouver club currently has approximately 200 members, 45 of whom have joined this year alone. Its North Vancouver counterpart’s membership is currently sitting at 260 full time members.
This weekend, 24 teams from across the province are descending on the West Vancouver Lawn Bowling Club for the B.C. Mixed Pairs Championships, the last provincial championships of the year. Play got underway this morning and is set to wrap up Sunday. The winners of the event will head to St. Catharine’s, Ont., to represent B.C. at the Canadian Mixed Pairs Championships, Sept. 15-20, according to Bowls B.C.
Starting Monday, Aug. 1 and running through Aug. 8, the North Vancouver Lawn Bowling Club will host the 2016 Junior and U25 Canadian Lawn Bowling Championships. The club previously hosted the tournament in 2004 and has welcomed the opportunity to do so again with approximately 80 club members volunteering their time to make it happen.
There will be 36 of the best young bowlers representing various provinces across the country competing at the club, and the male and female winners will go on to represent Canada at the 2017 World Junior Championships in Australia.
The tournament is being co-chaired by club members Ed and Anne Jackson. Ed serves as director in charge of North Vancouver’s junior program and Anne as the club’s head coach.
The Jacksons started at the club in 2000 when they retired.
“At that time we realized we should have joined 30 years earlier,” says Ed.
The couple views the tournament as a great opportunity to help attract more young people to the club’s junior program as well as the sport overall.
“Typically lawn bowling is viewed as an older person’s sport, which is wrong. All the best bowlers in the world are under 30 years old. We’re trying to change the image of the sport to get young people involved. It’s a wonderful sport,” says Ed.
Currently the North Vancouver club has five junior members, four of whom are gearing up to compete in the tournament. The fifth is away on holiday.
Competitors Adysen Cattermole, 12, and Tristan MacDonald, 15, are second year bowlers, and Thomas Brick, 15, and Mason Mandzuk, 8, are in their first season.
“I’m hoping that a couple of them will be in the medals, but they’ll be up against very stiff competition from the rest of Canada,” says Ed.
Next, the West Vancouver Lawn Bowling Club will host the 2016 Canadian Singles Championships Sept. 5-10.
“It’s an international qualifier. Whoever wins that tournament, men and women, will represent Canada in Australia the following year,” says Mason, who is both chairing the event and planning to compete.
Mason has made a number of medal-winning appearances at provincial and national lawn bowling championships over the years. Most recently, he won the Provincial Pairs, held June 17-19 in New Westminster, teamed up with Nanaimo Lawn Bowling Club’s Hiren Bhartu. This is the third time the duo has won gold in the last 10 years.
The win earns them a berth in the Canadian Championships (which they also won 10 years ago), being held Aug. 14-20 in Edmonton.
“Our chances are good. It will be good to get away and go to a different province and play,” says Mason.
Spectators are welcome at all three upcoming provincial and national events being hosted on the North Shore.
“I would particularly like to invite any spectators to come out and see the games and in particular juniors to get involved and watch how other young people of their age are bowling. It’s really an eye-opener to see how skilled they are,” says Ed.