Thorpe Report: Lawn bowling club opening doors

NANAIMO – With spring weather, outdoor lawn bowling season set to get underway.

With spring now here and the weather starting to get a bit warmer, another season of outdoor lawn bowling is about to get underway.

The Nanaimo Lawn Bowling Club is one of the oldest sports groups in our city, with this year marking its 92nd season of operation. The club’s bowling green is located in the beautiful setting of Bowen Park, with the clubhouse immediately adjacent to the Bowen Activity Centre.

Two weekends ago, more than sixty club members gathered at the clubhouse for the annual spring general meeting, where plans were outlined for the coming season of play. Returning as president for another term is David Mitchell, to be assisted by vice president Dean Thompson. Bernice Urbaniak is the secretary, and Barbera Berg the club treasurer.  Others on the board of directors include Myron Mishio, who will coordinate the canteen, Vernie Dawkin in charge of membership, and May Mackay looking after marketing and publicity. Joyce Mitchell returns as games chairwoman to oversee leagues and competitions, and Vern Hagstrom will head up maintenance of the green.

Lawn bowling’s slogan is “A sport for all; a sport for life,” and the club promotes the benefits of fresh air, friendship, competition and cooperation. The season runs from April until the end of September, with various leagues happening almost every day of the week during the daytime and evenings. There are men’s leagues, ladies’ league, mixed leagues, and a league for the visually impaired run by Donn Sherry. Although sometimes perceived as an older person’s game, the sport of bowls is now seeing a younger demographic hitting the greens. To that end, the club will launch a spring youth program this year, targeting schools and other youth groups for interested individuals between the ages of eight to 18 years.

For some events during the year, teams are chosen at random; for others, they are teams of choice. The games themselves also offer variety, with formats that accommodate singles, doubles, triples, and fours. In addition to weekly leagues, there are various club competitions during the season. And for those who wish to bowl more competitively, a number of inter-club competitions are held both here and at other clubs on the Island.

A major attraction is the camaraderie of lawn bowling. Fun nights, potluck dinners, barbecues, and Sunday tea and bowls are some of the social events held on a regular basis. Many members bowl just for fun, so events are designed so that the social side of the sport can be enjoyed.

Visitors and new members are always welcome, and so the Nanaimo Lawn Bowling Club has organized some upcoming open houses for any interested members of the community. The first of those is this coming Saturday (April 11), from 1-4 p.m. Anyone curious about the sport or interested in lawn bowling is invited to drop in to the facility at Bowen Park. For those wishing to try their hand, club coaches will be pleased to assist and explain the basics of the game. Visitors can get details about membership and events, chat with members, and also have the chance to win free lessons. It’s a great opportunity for beginners to try bowling with some friendly help provided. Equipment will be supplied, but guests are asked to wear comfortable clothing and flat-soled shoes to avoid damaging the green.

For those unable to attend Saturday’s session, a second open house will be held April 18, also from 1-4 p.m. As well, the Bowen greens will be available for guests to try the game as a part of activities happening in Bowen Park on Earth Day on April 26.

For all current members, the official opening day for the new lawn bowling season will be April 19. Ceremonies will be held at 1 p.m., followed by refreshments and the first game of the season.

Whatever your sport, a reminder in closing to play your hardest, play fair, and show good sportsmanship.