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Bowls In Focus : August September 2010
24 Bowls In Focus There is little doubt that Chloe Stewart’s rise in bowls has been basketball’s loss. The rising star from Kyneton is built like a willow stick and at 14 years of age stands at five feet, nine inches in height and is probably still shooting. “I’m nearly fifteen,” prompted Chloe as she sat in the living room of her grandmother and mentor Val Carey. Val, who swapped her golf clubs for serious bowls some years back, intro- duced Chloe to bowls at the age of nine during the annual Easter tournament at Kyneton. Instead of pulling a face and turning her back, Chloe immediately settled down to the job at hand and won her first tournament and her first prize money, a cheque for $50. “That was so much back then,” she laughed. Twelve months later she was really into the game, joining the VLBA and continuing to play under the guidance of Val, who she refers to as, ‘my manager’. But bowls was not her only love in sport. Chloe was a fleet-footed winger in the Kyneton Under-10 football team, but ‘retired’ when she became ‘too old’ to carry on playing with the boys. “I also played lots of basketball,” said Chloe who occupied the position of centre in the Kyneton junior side. “It was real basketball not netball,” she said explaining her preference for the faster game. But she didn’t have the football scene to herself as brothers Alex and Marcus were also into chasing the oval pigskin, and while Marcus has continued with his footy Alex has joined his sister on the bowling green. “Marcus plays cricket and if mum isn’t taking me to bowls she is taking him to play all over the place,” laughed Chloe. ‘Mum’ is Jenny Stewart a busy local real estate agent whose spare time (and more) is taken up with the sporting life of her children. Although she is not a bowler herself (yet) she says she is intrigued with the game and loves watching. “She could be a very good player if she wanted to be, she’s very interested and takes it all in,” volunteered Val about her daughter, who is often seen amongst the spectators at major junior events. But much has happened in Chloe’s bowling career since she put that first bowl down as a nine-year-old. This year she was runner-up in the State Under-18 Singles Championship and was recently named in the senior state squad - the youngest player to have earned this honour. Bowls aficionados reckon she is a worthy choice after strong performanc- es in the state junior side in the test series against New South Wales and Tasmania last season and the 2008 series against both South Australia and NSW. She also has some very credit- able performances at the pointy end of the junior national titles. However it was last season that she had the benefit of the ‘big time’ when she was selected to play in Sunbury’s Premier pennant team, as was brother Alex. Apart from playing lead for Brett Petrie in Sunbury’s top side, Chloe is also benefiting from the coaching by the great Mark Cowan. Chloe sees her selection in the pre- mier side resulting in the fact she is a good lead and considers this is a pretty good place to be in a team, although in under-age competition she has been at the head as skip. Even though it can be said she is just heading into her teenage years it is clear to see that Chloe Stewart has an abiding love of lawn bowls and an enor- mous appreciation of the advantages of the sport and enjoyed expounding its virtues as an individual game and a team sport. “She loves bowls, that’s what makes the difference,” said mentor Val. But Chloe also loves something else. A bouncing nine-month-old ball of white fluff called Cooper. “Mum said, ‘if you get into the state junior side (2009) I’ll get you a dog’, so it was a matter of getting the right dog,” gushed the normally shy Chloe. The right dog turned out to be a Maltese-Shiatsu cross which keeps Chloe very busy seeing her Saturday mornings are now taken up with Coo- per’s obedience classes. But ahead lies some stronger com- mitments at the weekend as Chloe says she will have Saturdays and Sundays out with both senior and junior squad practices and almost can’t wait for it all to start happening. She was recently invited to play in the Junior Golden Nugget at Tweed Heads, where she had the opportunity to gain valuable match practice against Australia’s premier Under-18 players. “And I’m thinking of entering the NSW championship and having a go at that too,” she confided. In year 9 at Kyneton Secondary College, Chloe has yet to map out a career path. “As long as it has something to do with maths,” she said explaining that this was her forte in the classroom. “But I want to play for Australia and I’ll be giving it my best shot before I finish school.” It is no surprise then that the player Chloe most admires is Kelsey Cottrell, the Queenslander who made her Australian debut at 15 and has gone on to blaze a trail on the local and interna- tional scene. “It’s because Kelsey was so young,” she concluded. - Di Gatehouse Rising starlet on a mission • Above: Young state hopeful Chloe Stewart with Cooper. • Left: Here’s Chloe in action against ACT during last year’s junior nationals at Halekulani.
June July 2010