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Sporting Schools School Yard to Sports Star: Kelsey Cottrell

Kelsey Cottrell

Image: Kelsey Cottrell, Australian Jackeroos Bowler

What are your memories of playing sport at school? Did you play any other sports?

I love playing and watching all sports and I especially loved sporting carnival days at school. I played Tennis, Cricket, Softball and Touch Football at school but didn’t know about Bowls until I was 12.

How did you get started in the sport of bowls?

Lawn Bowls was a sport I hadn’t come across prior to my mum finding an advert in the local paper about free coaching. She thought Bowls would be a great way to meet new people in a new town. I originally had no intentions of playing bowls with mum but I often found myself at the bowls club watching her after Tennis lessons. One day someone asked me if I would like to have a go and I did! I haven’t looked back since!

When did you realise that you could compete at the highest level?

I started to have some success against juniors and I won a prestigious tournament on the Sunshine Coast. I came up against two of the best players in the country but it wasn’t until I was invited to practice with the Australian Squad that I thought I could take bowls seriously. 

I trialled for the 2006 Commonwealth Games but had little expectations of getting picked, however, when I missed out I realized I never wanted to miss out again and playing for Australia was my new goal.

What was it like being selected for the Australian squad at such a young age with many older team mates?

I was so shy when I first got picked in the Australian Squad so I hardly spoke to anyone. It was overwhelming at first, however it only took a couple of my teams mates to take me under their wings before I felt like I belonged. Going away with the Australian Squad was the most fun I’d ever had!

What are your top 3 tips to children about playing sport?

There is no doubting that if you are having fun, success will come. I also think it’s great to try as many different sports as possible to see which ones you enjoy the most or which ones you are best at. One thing I regret is not asking my school friends to come and have a go at bowls, so I would advise to try a new sport with your friends.

To read more about the Sporting Schools Bowls program, click here.