When you’re 18, the world is your oyster.
It’s the time of life when you’re finishing school, and. setting forth into the big world to pursue your dreams.
Lawn Bowler Adam Baillie turned 18 just a few months ago.
He’s now completing his schooling at Massey High School, and looking forward to a 2-year stint at the Building Trades Academy at Massey in Auckland, to pursue his dream of becoming a builder.
Adam’s also just completed playing in the Burnside Under 26 Singles Tournament in Christchurch, surprising himself (and no doubt many others) by coming runner-up. As a result of his performance, he is looking forward to fulfilling a dream to take up an invitation to play with Anthony Oullett in the Stewart Buttar Pairs at Burnside in January.
Great dreams for any 18 year old.
But what’s particularly special about Adam and his dreams is that he was born profoundly deaf, and has received a cochlear implant to help with his impairment.
While deafness doesn’t disable Adam’s bowling arm (and his builder’s arm for that matter), it does make communicating with coaches, umpires and markers challenging, not to mention other members of his team.
“Although in some ways, I think it helps me,” he says, “It allows me to concentrate on the game more.”
Adam’s great aunty, Judy Boag, introduced him to the game when he went to stay with her in Kerikeri during the school holidays. “She encouraged me to take it up, so I joined the Papakura Bowling Club near to where I lived.”
“Since then, I’ve joined Point Chevalier Bowling Club. It’ll be closer to where I’m studying at the Building Trades Academy next year. Plus it will provide a lot more younger competition.”
In the three years Adam has been playing bowls, he’s already made a name for himself. Not just in the deaf bowls community, but in mainstream open tournaments.
He was a Counties-Manukau Centre Junior Rep in 2019/2020, becoming a Men’s Open Rep as well in the same season. He was third in the Nation Secondary Schools Singles, and won the Auckland Secondary Schools Pairs in February this year (the National Finals were not played because of COVID).
He won the Counties-Manukau Centre 1-5 Pairs in 2019/2020. And won the Men’s Singles at the New Zealand Deaf Lawn Bowls National Tournament in 2019. He was in the Papakura team which won the National Bowls3Five competition earlier this year.
At club level, Adam has won the 1-5 Singles three times, the Men’s Pairs and the Men’s Fours.
“But my big dream is to represent New Zealand in the 9th World Deaf Bowls in Scotland in 2023. And while my preference is to play in mainstream tournaments, it’s an opportunity to represent New Zealand which I can’t turn my back on.”
At the rate Adam’s game is improving, Scotland seems a distinct possibility.
“I need to work on my mental game as well,” he says. “It was really nerve-wracking playing such strong opponents in the Burnside Under 26’s, and if I’m lucky enough to get to compete in Scotland, I need to get those nerves under control.”
If anyone can, Adam can.
He’s had to battle with a lifetime of impaired hearing in a hearing-centric world. Anyone with enough grit to do that can surely put up with anything a few deaf Scots, Poms, Aussies and others might throw at him on the green.
Meantime, make sure you keep an eye out for this future star.