Q: You and Ryan Bester are the only Canadian Bowlers who could be described as close to professional lawn bowlers. How does being able to tailor your schedule to suit lawn bowling make you more effective as a player?
Kelly: Yes, living in Australia means I’m able to play a lot, but I’m far from a professional making a living playing bowls. I, like most of us, have a full-time job, working 4-6 days a week. But I have to say, having a supportive employer, in the bowls industry, does makes it easier to tailor my workload with my bowls schedule. This and the combination of being able to play on good greens 12 months a year, against good competition, along with having a more flexible schedule to play and practice as much as I can, have all factored into me becoming a better player. Playing more often and at a higher level, I feel that I’ve become more consistent and confident in the full range of shots, from the draw to the yard on as well as my drive.
Q: The first time I met you, we travelled together to Kingston for the provincial singles. The difference between the Kelly that I knew then and the Kelly that I see on the greens now is that in pressure situations, you tend to take over the game. How have you developed your mental toughness over the years and what mental preparation routines do you follow?
Kelly: Over the years and with the experiences I’ve gained, I think I’ve matured as a player. With that comes developing my mental toughness. It’s still something that I’m continually working on but improving my mental game has definitely helped with my results on the green.
Q: I know that you manage a bowls shop, The Resting Toucher (in Melbourne). How do split your time between work, training and competitive play?
Kelly: I’m very lucky to have found a job in the bowls industry. They are extremely understanding and flexible in providing me the necessary time off for bowls. With that being said, it’s still a juggling act to find the proper balance between work, training, competitions as well as being able to spend time with friends. My regular week has me practicing 2-3 times and 3-4 times a week I’m in competition play. Our bowls season is quite a long one, so I do also like to take a bit of a break from it in July to come back fresh in August.
Q: There is a nice picture of you and Ali Forsyth, the New Zealand World Fours champion, on your Facebook page. How did the two of you get together?
Kelly: Ali and I first met at the World Championships in Christchurch in 2008. The Canadian team and the New Zealand team were both staying at the same accommodation for the duration of the event, so we became really good friends. Over the years, we kept in touch and in 2012 decided to give our relationship a go, as we had 3 competitions that year where we could make extended visits on either end of the competition. We did 3 years of long distance before deciding I’d move to Melbourne in 2015 after the Asia Pacifics.
Q: Managing a bowls shop lets you experience a wide variety of the bowls products on the market. What bowls do you prefer now and why?
Kelly: There are many bowls on the market at the moment in Australia, all of which are quite a different trajectory from the models sold in Canada. Here in Australia I’d recommend a good all-round bowl: good on a variety of surfaces such as carpet, grass and synthetic & on a variety of speeds (12 seconds-18 seconds). Something like the Taylor SR or Dreamline XG would be what I’d recommend. In Canada, I’d recommend a model like the Taylor Ace.
Q: Are you currently sponsored by a bowls manufacturer?
Kelly: Yes. I am currently a proud member of team Taylor.
Q: You come from a long line of bowlers. Your great grandfather is on the wall at the James Gardens club. Your grandfather Dill won an Ontario fours with your father Steve. Steve, of course, has won more Canadian fours championships than anyone. What have you learned from Steve that has helped you develop as a player?
Kelly: I owe most of what I know about this great game to my dad and my family. Growing up in a bowling family, we spent most of our summers either on the green practicing or watching each other in districts/provincials/nationals or other tournaments. Some of my earliest memories are watching Dad and Grandpa play together, keeping my own scorecard to make sure what’s on the scoreboard matches my homemade card on the sideline. Dad helped me so much along the way. Bringing me to tournaments and spending the time with me in our practice sessions (especially when I first started). He’s taught me a lot about the technical side of the game, as well as the strategic side, but he’s taught me much more about being dedicated & persistent, setting and reaching my goals and being the ultimate team person. Without a doubt, I wouldn’t have gotten to where I am now without him.
Q: What do you feel are your greatest strengths as a player?
Kelly: My greatest strengths as a player would have to include: my competitive nature, my ability to make the big shot at the right time and a wealth of experience and knowledge to my team.
Q: What do you prefer to play – singles or the team game?
Kelly: If you had asked me this question a few years back, I would have probably said the singles game. But the singles game can be a lonely one. It’s great when things are going well, but can be a more difficult game when you’re not achieving. Don’t get me wrong, I love the pressure of playing singles and am very proud of the success I’ve had playing singles but the more experience I get playing in the team game, the more I enjoy it. Nothings better than winning as a team and doing something special together as a group. One of my more special moments internationally, was winning the bronze medal in last year’s fours at the Multinations, as it was such a collective team effort to get the win and it was awesome to share the excitement of winning with the team.
Q: How does playing the re-spot rule change your strategy in both singles and the team game?
Kelly: The re-spot rule does affect how the game gets played strategically and it does take the excitement of the killed end away. Some of my most memorable matches were games that had many dead ends that had to get replayed. With that being said, the re-spot is a part of the game and we have to learn how to adapt to the rule. Whether it’s playing singles or in a team game, the re-spot rule forces you to protect the 2 metre mark and strategically play more position bowls then if you had dead ends.
Q: In Australia, do you have a favourite bowls partner or team?
Kelly: I have to say, that I love playing Pennant here in Melbourne. Playing at the Clayton Bowls Club with my fellow Cobras is always so much fun!
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