Jaymee Sidel concentrates as she releases her bowl during the B.C. Provincial Pairs Open Friday at the Juan de Fuca Lawn Bowling Club.

Lawn bowling champ belies sport’s stereotype

For a 19-year-old, Jaymee Sidel has an uncommon interest. Sidel is the current B.C. junior lawn bowling champ, but it wasn’t her grandparents who introduced her to the sport. Instead it was the other way around.

For a 19-year-old, Jaymee Sidel has an uncommon interest.

Sidel is the current B.C. junior lawn bowling champ, but it wasn’t her grandparents who introduced her to the sport. Instead it was the other way around.

Sidel started lawn bowling competitively at age 11, following her sister, a three-time provincial and national champion.

Soon after, her grandparents started playing and then her parents.

While the three-time winner hasn’t managed to get any of her friends involved – “they kind of laugh at me,” she said – she loves the mix of low-impact activity and strategy.

Sidel’s mother, Shelley, said she isn’t surprised so many members of their family play the relatively obscure game. She practiced archery and was a majorette growing up.

“We’ve always been the oddball sport family to start with,” she said.

Sidel plays out of Oak Bay Lawn Bowling Club in Carnarvon Park, along with one other teen, who she hopes will represent her age group when she moves out of the under-18 age group next year.

The cut-off for the under-18s is Jan.1, and Sidel turned 19 on Jan. 26. It’s a loophole that allowed her to compete as both an under-18 and an under-25 player this year.

She headed to Montreal Tuesday for the Canadian Junior Championships, where the level of competition will be a change from the B.C. scene.

“It’s like going from kindergarten to college,” she said.

She’s nervous about the fierce competition from Ontario, which has a much bigger field of juniors than in B.C. where only eight girls competed in this year’s provincials.

But she’s confident in her skill, which earned her fourth place in last year’s nationals.

If she does well, she can also compete in the qualifying event for the World Juniors tournament in Australia in September.

Sidel plans to study theatre at the University of Victoria in the fall. UVic doesn’t have its own greens, so Sidel plans to keep playing at the Oak Bay club.

“To me, it’s absolute fun.”


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