The greens at the Juan de Fuca Lawn Bowling Club will be abuzz with bowlers tomorrow (April 30), as opening day heralds the start of a new season in Colwood.
Club director and head coach Ann Mathie is excited about the outlook for 2016. Not only is the club hosting two different provincial championships this summer, including the singles event in late June and the triples (three-person teams) July 22 to 24, the influx of new members is a positive sign, she says.
The recent open house days saw more than 30 newcomers try the game out under the watchful eye of current members. Some of those individuals have signed up for lessons with veteran bowlers.
“We’re hoping for about 18 to 20 new members out of that,” Mathie says. “Some people come and they like it and call us back.”
Among the new recruits is Jonathan Mantell. The 14-year-old Langford resident is the club’s first junior player and comes to the sport via curling, which he’s been involved in for about five years up the hill at the Juan de Fuca club.
He was out practising last weekend with his grandfather, Paul Mantell of View Royal – a past member who is getting back into lawn bowling. The youth admitted he already has a good handle on the game, given its similarity to curling in terms of scoring and the strategy of curving one’s shots toward the “jack,” the small white ball that serves as the target.
The club is up to about 120 members now and is seeing a bit of a increase of late. Mathie says the influx of new players usually balances out the loss of members, who leave for various reasons, but people are tending to continue playing well into their golden years.
That fact will be illustrated at the opening day celebrations, when the club shines a special spotlight on three longtime members who are in their 90s and still leading an active life.
While the majority of the club members participate on a recreational basis, it also has players who have excelled in tournament and playdowns competition.
Mathie herself, for example, was part of an Island foursome that won a national championship, and she also won the provincial pairs title.
Other JdF members have won tournaments over the years, giving the club a good mix of experienced and novice bowlers.
The first Bowls South Island tournament at Juan de Fuca happens May 14 and 15, the Galleon Mixed Pairs.
For more information on the club, visit juandefucalbc.ca.