Terrific Tahlia – the dual State Champion Taking on Bowls

by Billy Johnson

Tahlia Nichols lives and breathes sport. From learning new skills to making new friends, every aspect of playing sport appeals to the 14-year-old. She has a passion for competing and developing her skills, which makes it no surprise to note that she has recently made history by becoming the first person under the age of 15 to win two separate Combined High Schools State Championships.

Tahlia is a member of the Sydney North team which won the NSWCHS Softball Championship this year, and was also a part of the Sydney North team that secured their first-ever NSWCHS Lawn Bowls Championship. To win dual State Championships across different sports is an achievement in itself, and it’s made all the more impressive when noting that Tahlia was competing against individuals up to 20 years old. The cherry on top of this incredible feat? She’s only taken up lawn bowls within the last 12 months.

Tahlia’s quick progression in the bowls world has not gone unnoticed as she currently plays lead in her Grade 3 Open Pennant Side at Pittwater RSL and was recently selected in the NSW Junior Representative and Development Squad.

We asked Tahlia a few questions about her time in lawn bowls, her passions and her priorities as she works her way through high school.

How did you first get into bowls?

It’s almost a year ago now, I was collecting team trophies for the end of my summer softball season. I was telling my U14 Representative Coach Sue Brandenburg, who is also the Ladies President for Pittwater Bowling Club, that I put my name down to be in a school team. With preferences going to older kids, I missed out on a place in the team on that occasion. 

Sue told me if I wanted to learn to bowl, I can come down to the bowling club in the afternoons where her husband Greg could help coach me.

We had our Pittwater Softball Club presentation at the bowling club the following weekend. I got to have a try there first, I ended up having so much fun and I started training two to three times a week. From there, I fell in love with the sport.

I went into my very first competition two months later which was the NSW State Championships and my Sydney North team ended up winning the event. The win made me the first and only female in the Sydney Region to become a CHS gold medallist for lawn bowls, I still can’t believe it happened, and it will always be one of my best bowls memories.

What do you enjoy most about bowls?

Still being very new to the sport, what I enjoy most about bowls is the mental game. Thinking about what my opponent is going to bowl while I’m playing my bowl, learning why people play the shots they play and comparing what I would do in those situations. 

I also enjoy watching the people I play with, I’m always learning and practising the techniques that they’ve being perfecting since before I was born! Bowls gives me the ability to learn new skills and create life long memories with people all around NSW and hopefully Australia one day.

How do you manage to juggle being so successful in multiple sports?

Managing my time between both my sports and school is still a bit of struggle as I’m only 14 and can’t get my licence just yet. 

I train every day, one day will either be bowls and the next day softball. Some days during the week I’ll actually train both sports and now that Pennants has started, Saturdays after my junior game, I’m running straight off the softball diamond, onto a bowling green and once Pennants has finished, I’m straight back to the softball diamonds for my senior game. 

It’s a long day but I have to keep both skills up if I want to make state teams. 

I don’t think I’d be able to do it all without the support of my family and team mates, who help pick me up for trainings and games. My main supporter is my mum who I can’t thank enough for supporting me to reach my full potential and always having belief in me. 

Attending a Sports High School has given me access to some amazing sporting programs. I was selected into the Student Athlete Support Program which is dedicated to students who do more than a certain amount of sporting hours outside of school and struggle to fit in study time. 

I was also selected into the Elite Mentoring program which is dedicated to athletes who are competing at a State or National level.

I’ve also gained selection into the High Potential Student Athlete Program which gave me the opportunity to further develop my skills, knowledge and sporting performance. 

What are your goals over the next few years?

My biggest goal that I have right now, is to obtain good grades throughout my schooling. My sporting goals over the next few years are to be consistent in making a NSW Softball selection and a NSW Junior bowls selection.

I would love to bowl for Australia before I turn 18 and try and get a sponsorship. 

I’ve got the drive and determination to make it happen but most importantly, as long as I’m smiling and still finding the fun in what I do, than I know anything is possible. 

Interested in taking up bowls? Visit your local bowling club or call Bowls NSW on 1800 WE BOWL (1800 93 2695) for assistance!