The Engadine Bowling Club team is truly an extended family, with many staff members having dedicated decades to our Club. Their deep connections with our members and commitment to community values shine through in their daily interactions. Among them, Carolyn Nelson, affectionately known as Caz, stands out. Now celebrating a remarkable 25-year milestone with the Club, she’s one of a kind. A skilled and accomplished bowler, Caz is also renowned for her meticulous attention to detail in managing our functions. Join us in getting to know Caz and discover her inspiring story.

What initially drew you to your career at Engadine Bowling Club, and how has your role evolved over the years?

In 1999, my friend Michelle Chapman worked at the Club, and I kept asking her if any jobs were available. I had recently been diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) and was looking for work close to home to allow me to balance with looking after my young children. A position became available, and Michelle organised a meeting for me with the General Manager. I met with Gary on a Thursday, and he asked if I could start the following day! My first role at the Club was selling raffle tickets for the Friday and Sunday night raffles.

Getting this job was a pivotal moment. Due to my health issues, I was using a walking stick at the time but decided to leave it outside when I met with Gary. This was the moment I stopped using my walking stick, as it was very motivating to get the job. I loved getting out of the house, meeting the members, and having a chat, and it never felt like I was coming to work. Members of the Club are like family to me.

Over time my days increased to running promotions on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons. I then moved on to reception and then became the Functions Coordinator.

My children got to know the lady bowlers well when they were in the local Primary School as they would come to the Club to meet me after school. They enjoyed spending time with the ladies, especially when they were preparing for various events. So much so that they didn’t want to come home when it was time to leave. It is very much a special place to work.

Reflecting on your almost 25 years with the Club, what have been some of your career’s most memorable moments or highlights?

I have made friendships with staff and members and have been introduced to the game of bowls. I have also had the opportunity to manage functions which I am passionate about. I was extremely grateful for the opportunity when the position became available.

In terms of functions, I was honoured to be asked to organise all aspects of two weddings, including the service and reception, both of which were held at the Club. It was a very special way of making a difference.

What inspired you to start playing bowls and how did you get started?

Two lady bowlers, Fay and Joan, when I was running the Club’s promotions, kept asking me when I was going to start playing bowls. At the time, my boss was Peter Hughes, so I asked if he could give me a lesson to see if it was for me. His response after our first practice was, “You’re a natural.”

I then started playing social bowls, and almost immediately, I was encouraged and supported to play Pennants. I thoroughly enjoyed it from the beginning and continue to love playing to this day. This was the start of many bigger and better things, including winning the National Championship and World Championship several times in the multi-disability competitions.

Everyone was very welcoming and supportive when I started, even though I was much younger than the other ladies.

What do you consider your greatest achievement in your bowls career?

In 2013, I made the final two in the Commonwealth Games squad in my category but unfortunately missed out. I was the only female in the squad. I also won the World Championships and the National Titles and made the Australian Tri-Nations team in 2008, among many other memorable achievements.

Which match or tournament are you most proud of, and why?

My first World Championship gold medal in the triples in 2007 and my silver medal in the singles I won with my last bowl. Witnessed by Greg Helm, now Director of the Club and an accomplished bowler himself.

Have there been instances where skills or lessons learned from bowls have directly translated into your professional life, or vice versa?

Definitely. I’ve learned great patience in dealing with people in different situations in the workplace. Bowling also teaches sportsmanship (how to be a good winner and a good loser), which are both really important.

How does being part of the Engadine Bowling Club contribute to your sense of community and connection to the local area outside of work?

I have friendships across all ages, I know lots of people locally and including local business owners. The Club is a real meeting place for the local community for all ages and all occasions. It is a friendly and welcoming place. I’ve gotten to know lots of people who take part in local community groups.

What do you enjoy most about working at the Club?

There’s so much that I love about my job. This includes keeping updated with technology and community involvement, being part of the Engadine Bowling Club family, and making lifelong friendships with members and staff. It has never seemed like a job here. In my function role, I’ve enjoyed helping members celebrate different milestones and have been honoured to help people celebrate the lives of their loved ones by organising their wakes.

Can you share any fond memories or amusing anecdotes from your time both in the workplace and on the bowling green?

The camaraderie with other bowls players, the enjoyment of supporting other players and celebrating their successes, bowls trips away, and watching our younger team members work their way through university and then start their careers. It is lovely we still see so many of our former team members as they come back to the Club to socialise.

Who or what has been your biggest inspiration throughout your career?

Peter Hughes was the one who got me out on the green and told me to stop wasting my time and start playing. Peter also allowed me to take on the Functions Coordinator role.

What advice would you give new members or those considering joining the Club?

If you want to try lawn bowls, don’t be afraid to. We offer free lessons, or you can start by organising a barefoot bowls party with your friends and see if you enjoy it.

In terms of the Club itself, we are a friendly and welcoming venue, and you will surely see a familiar face when you come and visit. To join, it’s only $5 for one year, and you will receive discounts on food and beverage and other member benefits. It’s a beautiful community and we always love meeting new members.


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