109TH SEASON COMES TO A CLOSE
It is hard to believe that it is five months and 21 reports ago since the first Cobourg lawn bowling report of the season was published but suddenly the shutters have gone up on the club house and bowling has finished for 2016. All that remains is some work to ensure that the greens are in the best possible condition before winter sets in.
The season finished in good style recently with lunch followed by a two game jitney. On a glorious fall afternoon Janet Taylor, Ken Wren and Mike Place were the winners and the honour of closing the season with the final bowl went to incoming President Nan Hendren.
In the display of Cobourg sports at the Sifton Cook Heritage Centre there is a quote from Layton Dodge in which he describes lawn bowling as “an obscure sport”. That is probably a fair description but through these regular reports hopefully it has become less obscure to readers who are non bowlers and maybe it will kindle an interest and encourage people to try it out for themselves next year. And certainly it has become less obscure to all those visitors to Victoria Park who have stopped to watch and find out about the game and thought “that looks fun”.
Lawn bowling in Cobourg has enjoyed somewhat of a resurgence in the last few years and the club has been successful in increasing membership over the last two years. It is not just adult membership that has increased; the number of junior bowlers has also increased and the skill and sportsmanship of those juniors was apparent for all to see during junior tournaments and when the club hosted the Ontario junior championships. The club had not hosted a major championship for many years but thanks to the organizing committee and all the club volunteers it went like clockwork and the club received lots of plaudits for the way that championship was run.
In the last few years the club has attracted an increasing number of visiting bowlers to the various open tournaments that are held. What attracts them to Cobourg are the high quality greens, well run tournaments and the location which a recent tournament winner and well travelled Ontario champion described as the best in Ontario. The club could not run these tournaments and the various club tournaments without the support of many sponsors and is very fortunate to have many long term sponsors who can be relied upon year after year. The club’s success owes much to them.
So , a successful season in terms of membership, events hosted and some much needed improvements to the club house but what about bowling success? Well, as regular readers will know the stand out achievements this year have come from 15 year old Baylee van Steijn. She qualified for the Team Canada youth development squad in 2015 and started the season with a training camp with the full national squad in Vancouver. She then went on to win silver in the Ontario junior championships, bronze at the Canadian championships, a fourth place finish in the Ontario ladies pairs and to cap it all has been selected for Team Canada for the North American challenge against the USA. Not bad for a 15 year old and an indicator of what the sport has to offer for young people.
Those were the achievements that grabbed the headlines but what was equally encouraging and a sign of success was to see new bowlers quickly learn and improve and most importantly, enjoy the sport. Also to see second and third year bowlers moving up a level into more serious tournament play and thereby increase their skill and experience levels.
At the end of the day sport is supposed be fun. Anybody witnessing the popular Tuesday night club jitneys will hear lots of laughter, noise and good natured banter as well as seeing some good bowling. That’s the sign of a successful sports club. In 2017 the club will celebrate its 110th anniversary - surely another sign of a successful sports club. Hopefully it will be an even better year than this has been and we will be reporting on even more success.
A thought to finish the season with; the national anthem is played before many sporting events but never during (except in Cobourg). When the Concert Band concludes its Tuesday night summer concerts with O Canada the bowling stops and everyone turns to face the bandshell – always a nice moment. Only in Canada eh?