Debbie White-Blackjack

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Date of birth: 6/1/63
Place of birth: Cambridge
Club: Hinuera
Year started bowling: 1988/89 season
International debut: Yet to make debut
Cap number: Uncapped
Caps: 0
National titles: 1 (singles 2019)
Nickname: Deb
Occupation: BNZ agribusiness credit analyst
Interests outside bowls: Music

Debbie White is the newest Blackjack, having been selected from the talent development squad to play at the 2020 world championships on the Gold Coast. It’s the fulfilment of a dream that began in the early 80s, when her mother Jenny Simpson represented New Zealand. “I’ll never forget as a kid sitting at home watching the [1982 Brisbane] Commonwealth Games and my mum coming back with a silver medal. I remember thinking at the time that’s something I want to do.”

Six years later White took a break from work to start a family and her mum asked her down to the Matamata Bowls Club. She won the club’s first year singles and played for three seasons before leaving the sport when her daughter Emily was born. Two decades would pass before White returned to the green.

When Emily left home White “had to have something to fill in my time” so she attended a club day at Hinuera. Bev Corbett took her under her wing and has been her mentor since. “I really look up to her and really admire her ability and her demeanour, nothing bothers her.” The two quickly struck up a successful partnership and White started to make a name for herself on the national scene.

Having been out of the reckoning for the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games, White set her sights on  the 2020 world championships and made a major breakthrough at the 2019 Summerset National Singles and Pairs in Auckland. After prevailing in a thrilling singles semi-final against Kirsten Edwards, White came from 20-11 down to beat Selina Smith (nee Goddard) 21-20 in the tournament decider, drawing the winning shot on the 24th end. “That was the shot that changed my life. Doors opened after that, that I never thought would open for me.”

Later that year White was off to Adelaide to represent New Zealand at the world champion of champion singles. With some advice from defending champion Jo Edwards, she topped her section and beat English international Sophie Tolchard in the semi-finals to book a meeting with Australia’s Kylie Whitehead in the gold medal match. A three-end tie-break was required to separate the two and Whitehead prevailed. “While I was happy to get a silver medal, I was disappointed in the fact that I’d come so far and I was all over that match.” One end into the wind in the second set proved costly, with White dropping a big number.

She had little time to dwell on the defeat as she was soon off to the Gold Coast to represent the New Zealand development team in the Trans Tasman. White was happy with how she played in all but one match on the notorious slow green at Broadbeach, which she hadn’t been able to practice on.

White was overlooked for the Blackjacks team for the 2020 Trans Tasman but weeks later was brought to tears as she was selected in the world championship squad. She started a fitness regime and spent hours on the green to tweak her technique to prepare herself for the Gold Coast when the coronavirus pandemic forced the worlds to be postponed. “Going from the elation of World Bowls selection and being full in to training for that to the postponement of the tournament. It was definitely one of the most disappointing moments of my career.”

Debbie White was selected to be the lead in the triple and the two in the four.