Deaf Sports Stars31st August 2014

Deaf Sport Welcomes a New Upcoming Star

17 years old Kimberley Bruce becomes the youngest ever lawn bowls champion

by Sarah Lawrence

Despite the work of many committed and passionate deaf sports organisers and supporters, there are still far too few sporting opportunities for deaf youngsters. Even those that are available, are often not known by the youngster or their parents. Determined to play my part in promoting deaf sports, it always gives me great pleasure to learn of a deaf youngster making an impact on the deaf sporting circuit. 17 years old Scot, Kimberley Bruce, is doing just that in lawn bowls.

Having attended British Deaf Sport’s Lawn Bowls Team Championships in Swansea last week, you could assume that lawn bowls is played mostly by the more mature person, but Kimberley is proving that this is also a sport for youngsters. Born Deaf through the deaf genes on her father’s side, Kimberley first starting playing bowls when she was 9 years old, taking up a sport that both her parents enjoy.

As her mother Pam explained, “Kimberley was our 5th child and she has 4 hearing siblings. My husband and I were travelling across Scotland many times and I took Kimberley with me to every competition as nobody could babysit her. She got bored of watching us bowling after a while so my husband asked Kimberley if she wanted to play. She gave it a go and fell in love with it. She has now been playing for 8 years with me and my husband across Scotland and the UK.”

Attending mainstream school, Kimberley was taught orally and is now in the 6th Year where she is a Senior Prefect. The daughter of Deaf parents, Kimberley is also a fluent BSL user, with her parents and older siblings all using sign to communicate. Growing up fully integrated into Deaf life, Kimberley has ambitions to become a teacher or social worker for the Deaf. “I want to go to University to get my degree and then travel the world,’ Kimberley told me.

A confident young lady, Kimberley has a very positive attitude to life and to communication. Asked whether her deafness has ever been an issue, “Not really, as I usually find ways to make things go smoothly between me and hearing in social life or at bowling,” Kimberly responded. Practicing throughout the week with her parents, Kimberley plays in competitions every few weeks. For any other deaf youngsters who are considering giving bowls a try she has some simple advice, “Go for it! It’s a good challenge for any age.”

Taught the basics of bowling in the early years by her father, Kimberley was taken to junior bowling classes every Monday to develop her skills. Bowling in mainstream competitions as well as Deaf ones, Kimberley does not think that her deafness has ever been an issue, always taking things in her stride and finding ways to make communication work.

Kimberley has slowly but surely developed since those early years and is proud to have become the youngest ever winner of the Scottish Deaf Bowling Association Ladies Singles earlier this year. Committed to continuous improvement, her immediate ambition is to win gold at the International Deaf Bowling Championships in Belfast next year.

Playing in the mainstream for Craigie Bowling Club and Dundee Deaf Bowling Club, I asked Kimberley for her thoughts on deaf bowls more generally. Ever thoughtful about Deaf society, Kimberley said, “I think it’s a good sport for the deaf as it keeps the deaf community together especially with other deaf sports becoming less now compared to 30 years ago, when there were plenty of sports.”

Already successful in her bowling career, Kimberley is hoping to follow in her grandmother’s footsteps. “My grandmother won all the ladies titles and played for Scotland in the first international Deaf Bowling tournament in Melbourne, Australia and I want to follow in her foot steps." Whilst only at the tender age of 17, I asked Kimberley what 3 messages she would give to inspire young deaf children to try sport. With great maturity she replied,

  • “You might think of lawn bowls as a game that only old people play but it's actually something that more and more young people are playing nowadays.”
  • “The secret to success is doing the best that you can do. Forget about whether you might win or lose.”
  • “By working hard and practicing the skills that you need to perform, the results will take care of themselves. Being successful is about doing your best.”

Instrumental in her early success, I asked Pam what advice she would give to other deaf youngsters who might be interested in getting into bowling. “I promise you, bowling is a great sport," Pam told me. “If you want to start bowling, the best thing would be discuss with your parents about where to join. The internet would be the best source to find out more information about bowling in your area.”

At SLFirst we are looking forward to watching Kimberley’s bowling career develop, and if I manage to get a team going at my own Cardiff Deaf Club, I hope to get the opportunity to play against her at some point in the future. I don’t mind losing!!

Article by Sarah Lawrence

posted in Deaf Sport / Deaf Sports Stars

31st August 2014