How the Bowling Arm changed Lara’s life
Lara Symons’ story is an inspirational one – and owes much to the guidance of Victorian arm bowler Stephen Coles.
Last year state rep Stephen, from North Balwyn, was in Perth for a few months. During his stay, he was welcomed to play at the South Perth Bowling Club.
At that time, Stephen was approached by coach Kathryn Neville, and asked if he could assist Lara, the daughter of one of the club members, to use a bowling arm.
Kathryn was unable to find coaching information on the bowling arm within Western Australia.
Lara had been an active softballer, squash player and netballer until a debilitating stroke impacted her young life and sporting career.
Twenty years later while watching and supporting her mother play bowls at South Perth BC. Lara thought she may be able to give bowls a shot – and the advent of the bowlers arm was her ticket to take up sport again.
Lara’s infectious laugh and her great courage and persistence gave Stephen plenty to work with. He showed her how best she could use the bowling arm, taking small steps to build her skills and confidence.
By the end of the first session Lara was bowling using Stephen’s bowling arm competently.
The experience was filled with emotion and her successes were celebrated with high fives and big smiles. Lara was then off to a bowling shop to purchase her own bowling arm.
As Stephen was returning to Melbourne and club coach Kathryn was going to continue to coach Lara, Stephen spent time with Kathryn on how to use the bowling arm and mapped out drills to help improve Lara’s technique and skills.
Her rise has been incredible – all the way to recently representing Western Australia at the 2016 MultiBowl Nationals in South Australia.
Lara now regularly plays for South Perth BC in the scroungers competition on a Tuesday night and has become a regular player in the ladies Friday night pennant team, and also played in the WA Multi-Disability Championships in April 2016.
With the support of Bowls WA, in particular Inclusive Practices and High Performance Officer, Denise McMillan, Lara also now receives specialised coaching with experienced Rossmoyne Bowling Club coach Allen Petchell in addition to her regular work with Kathryn.
It’s a great story of compassion, inspiration and determination, and shows the value of the bowling arm within the sport.
The bowling arm, first invented by Trevor Harker, has allowed bowlers to continue to play the sport and allowed new bowlers like Lara to take it up, which can only benefit clubs and the community as a whole.
Here in Victoria, we are fortunate to have the support Bowls Victoria provides to the Bowling Arm fraternity – in particular Phil Gude who has been developing and coordinating the Bowlers Arm coaching clinics and is one of the key drivers for the National Bowling Arm Championships.
Have you seen our dedicated Bowlers Arm website section? Click here