Aiming for jack

The Squamish Seniors Centre gets ready to host Squamish's first lawn bowling tournament

In the dead of the bitter Edmonton winters, John Anderson's house was packed with heated intensity.

Anderson and his roommates had adapted the Italian ball game of bocce to fit the cozy confines of their pad. Sticky notes were plastered on the walls like billboards announcing the head-to-head matches. In preparation for the games, the living room was altered - pillows would guard the stone fireplace and the coffee table was moved. Competition was fierce. At stake were bragging rights and maybe a little free labour.

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"Those were long winters," Anderson said. "It got pretty serious."

While Anderson started playing bocce to escape the winter blues, the game springboarded him into another sport - lawn bowling.

"I wanted to compete at something at a really high level, so I picked something obscure," the 26-year-old said.

In 2008, Anderson found himself heading to the national championships. He was representing B.C. in the U25 category after beating out his lawn bowling club's bartender for the provincial spot. At the big tourney, Anderson placed fifth.

Laughs aside, the now-Squamish resident was hooked. The game is challenging, social and competitive, Anderson said, with the objective of the game similar to curling. A player rolls slightly asymmetric balls trying to place them the closest to a smaller white ball - known as the kitty or jack. Anderson enjoys the sport so much so that he continues to hit the greens, now volunteering for the Squamish Seniors Centre's lawn bowling sessions.

"There are a lot of misperceptions about lawn bowling," Anderson said, noting it is a fun game for all ages.

Twice a week - on Tuesdays at 10 a.m. and Thursday at 1 p.m. - people 50 years of age and older can try their hand at it on Squamish's two lawn bowling lanes, which are a short walk away from the seniors centre. Joining Anderson to help host the sessions is Trish McNair, a national Canadian lawn bowls coach. For four years, McNair was the chair for Canada Blind Sports' lawn bowling commission. She helped organize a national championship as well as two world championships.

Having this kind of expertise available in Squamish is amazing, said Michelle Watson, the senior's centre's recreation program co-ordinator, especially since the centre is organizing its inaugural Squamish Seniors Centre Lawn Bowling Tournament.

The event is open to everyone and beginners are welcome, she said. The tournament takes place on Thursday, Sept. 1 at 1 p.m. Those wanting to participate must register beforehand by coming into the centre, located at 1201 Village Green Way. For more information call (604) 848-6898 or visit www.squamishseniorscentre.com.

"It will just be a really fun, inclusive tournament," Watson said, adding the centre hopes to make it an annual event.

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