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Women's Triples 

Inspired by the promise of winning 50 pence for every toucher they played, sisters Katy Baxter and Holly Chaytor were gripped by bowls soon after they were introduced to the game through school more than 20 years ago.

This season, with Lydia Cutmore, they won the British Isles Women's triples after lifting the EIBA title last year.

"After the six-week course, I enjoyed it so much I decided to carry on," Katy recalled, "I was seven years old. Everyone at school always knew I played bowls, with starting from being so young it was just a given that I would be bowling whenever I had free time. My closest friends were so supportive. My coach Ian Paddy was my biggest role model, always there to inspire and help the younger players."

Playing from Hornsea IBC, Katy progressed quickly, winning EBYDS School of Excellence competitions and being selected to represent England in the Under 25 International squad from 2014.

"The people I met and the memories I made, I just loved it so much," Katy said. "The first year I was with Cassidy, Paige and Louise - it was a fantastic series! I skipped with my Hornsea sister Lydia Cutmore in a later series, singing Venga Bus on the way to the game. You can't beat that feeling! I went on to play in the senior team for two years which was a massive honour and I am so proud of my time there."

The first taste of playing in an England shirt came for Holly when playing in the British Isles Women's Fours in 2017.
She said: "I arrived on the Sunday to watch Katy play Scotland in the senior team. Then, the year after, was my first senior international game, playing two to Nicole, Bex, and Katherine. Any team that I'm in, I like to bring the same, fun vibe. I like to make people laugh. I think it makes you relax more, and playing international level can be nerve wracking.
"I was really shocked when I first made the team (I actually think it's because a few players went on maternity), but that's also a little thing about me; I doubt myself all the time. I look around, I see people winning, and I always think there could be someone better in my place. I don't want to be picked just because I'm loud, passionate, and like to have a good time, I want to be good enough. And, every year, when the team sheet comes through, I'm almost convinced that I've been replaced."

Holly, who is also a county netballer, credits childhood coach Ian Paddy for keeping her motivated.
"We still talk about his coaching skills now," she said. "He'd say: 'Always put 100 per cent concentration into every bowl', 'Visualise the bowl going down the green', and 'You must be up, when you are down'. He advised me to change my bowls to Taylor Aces, if I wanted to win anything. Safe to say, it worked.
"I didn't have role models when I was younger and I still don't look up to anyone now. All I ever want to be in life is better everyday so my own motivation and aspirations keep me going.
"Nothing particularly motivates me to play now, or win, I normally just want to play well for my teammates. After 24 years of bowls, it's now my second home."

Katy, on the other hand, says she is motivated by her son Jacob, who has recently taken up bowls.

"What he has bravely dealt with the past few years, finding out he is type 1 diabetic changed our lives forever and overcoming his autism to live his best life, has honestly made everything worth it.
"When I step on the green, I just think about him and relax knowing I am setting a fantastic example. I am extremely proud and inspired by him. Jacob struggles socially but is doing amazingly, being coached by Ian Paddy and my brother James Baxter which makes it extra special! Every Tuesday, he tries new skills and learns rules about bowls and thrives on all the positivity he gets. Each week he turns up with a massive smile on his face. I can't wait to see what he achieves in bowls... maybe a national champion in the making?"

For Katy, bowls is a chance to de-stress from a 'crazy lifestyle'.
"Spending time with my friends and bowls family who are just the best is brilliant," she added. "I love that you can meet some really special and wonderful people from all over the country and now I call them my friends. I love how you can be yourself!"

Holly added: "I love a lot about bowls, meeting new people, playing with my family/friends, travelling up and down the country (a break from the kids), but I think my favourite thing about bowls is visualising a shot in your head, and playing it absolutely perfect. That feeling is second to none!
"The best thing about playing with your family is the enjoyment. We all understand the game inside and out, no one ever means to play bad bowls, so saying sorry isn't an option for us. There is nothing to fall out over, and why would you want to play a sport that you don't enjoy? We win together, we lose together, and you can bet we analyse EVERYTHING on the way home! But, at the end of the day, to us, it's just a game of bowls.
"Believe it or not, when we play against each other, we genuinely talk about life and just have a good old catch up. We talk about what we had for tea, how our kids are doing, and laugh more than anything. We do take it seriously but the outcome is the outcome. I am especially awful at being at the same end as Lydia! We are too alike and sometimes forget it's even our turn. That's when I get the death stare from my mum to concentrate."

Katy says that nothing is more important than her bowls family and the quality time they spend together both on and off the green.
"Beating my sister is always the icing on the cake but whatever the outcome, we are always proud and support each other," she said.
Baby with Bowls
Mother-of-two Holly describes juggling work, homelife and bowls as 'crazy', adding: "Luckily for me, I have such a good husband and we are so blessed to have two beautiful children. I wouldn't have it any other way, but it is difficult. Callum uses all his annual leave, every year, so that I can go away to play bowls. We very rarely spend annual leave together.
"This year, being away from my family for a whole week, really hit me. The funny bathtime struggle stories from Callum are hilarious, and help me through, but then 'Mom Guilt' is so real! Berry was only five months old, and I had an awful feeling that she would forget me. You see social media posts of winners, but you don't see all the rounds that have that been played before, all the travelling, all the sacrificing bedtime routines. I reckon every player must say to themselves at least once a season 'Is It worth it?' I still don't know, but keep playing. Maybe, it's for the peace and quiet?"

Holly says having a strong support unit is key; "Work are super accommodating, especially with me working in a school, but they are behind me all the way and are extremely supportive.
"My family and bowls friends are always there, from taking me to games to watching and supporting, letting me know they are cheering me on. I just want to take this time to thank my mum for absolutely everything she has done for us. We wouldn't be where we are now if she wasn't dedicated and passionate for us and believed in us."

Katy describes winning the British Isles Women's Triples as 'the best experience' in her bowls career.
"It's always a privilege representing your country but to do it with my two favourite people was just amazing! A memory I will never forget from start to finish.
"In the semi final we were relaxed, danced to the music and had a great time, which made us play the best bowls we can play. Against Scotland in the final, we knew we had to step up a gear and play the best bowls we could play. The hardest part was when the Scottish men's bus turned up with two ends to go. Playing against the crowd was the hardest part.

"After leading all the way through the game, we were two in front going into the last end. Playing toward to Scotland crowd, me and Lydia did not play our best bowls when needed but made sure there was positional bowls to help. Leaving Holly under a little pressure with her last bowl, two down on the end, it was make or break. It took a lot of persuading to get Holly to play positive weight at the two woods together. But with a bang, she clipped the bowl onto the jack. And good old me had the re-spot!
"When we realised we'd won I honestly could not believe it. It was a great feeling. When I came off the rink, someone said: "Katy you really have to believe in yourself, your bond with Lydia and Holly is just amazing and watching you guys out there is pure entertainment".
"It was great having Peter and John there supporting us from start to finish - a lot of work goes on in the background and often people don't realise.
"Winning with Holly and Lydia is just the icing on the cake! Hopefully we can win more competitions together and prove that we are good enough."

The sisters' dreams for the future are to continue to excel in the sport.
Holly said: "My goal is qualify in the PBA. To some, that might not be a big dream. It used to be 'Beat a top player in the singles', then came the national final of the two bowl singles against MBE Ellen Falkner in 2021. I only won that because I was pregnant with Barney. (We won the triples when I was pregnant with Berry).
"Another dream we had, was to win a national title as a triple. Just three best friends doing what we enjoy... and we proved we could. I would really like to win a national pairs title with my sister. Maybe sometime in the future when I actually believe I can skip."

Katy said: "My dream would be to find success in a singles national, as I feel it is a natural step. To go far with my family, James Baxter and Holly Chaytor, would also be so special. I always want to carry on believing in myself and my game."

Sian Honnor.

We'd love to know what bowls means to you, get in touch at info@eiba.co.uk

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May 2024

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