Lorraine looks forward to Under 25 manager role
Before she headed off to the World Championships where she clinched a gold medal for England in the women’s fours, Oxfordshire and Sussex star Lorraine Kuhler spoke to Sian Honnor about final preparations for the event and a new indoor role.
’m nervous. Excited. More excited than nervous,” she said.
“It’s a great honour and I just want to do my country and family proud. I feel like I have spent a long time working towards this opportunity, so I am very excited to finally get the chance to play on this stage/arena!
“To be sharing the experience with Sophie Tolchard who is one of my best friends and some of the best players in the world is obviously a dream come true.”
Lorraine, 34, has been bowling since the age of 11 after following her parents John and Cathy into the sport.
“Eventually I decided to start playing myself outdoors, but I didn’t start indoors until I was about 13 or 14,” she said.
“I was lucky to have very supportive parents who travelled all over with me to games, took me to practice, gave me opportunities to play with great players I could learn from.
“My first major success I suppose in terms of winning a national title it was winning the EIBA national mixed fours around 2011 with my then partner David Hubbard, great friend Leigh and a lovely lady called Jill whose face I will never forget when we finally won! I’d had a few near misses, Champion of Champions semi-final and women’s national singles semi and was nice to finally get over the line in one.”
For Lorraine, there have been many accolades and highlights but she describes her champagne moments as: “Winning national triples in 2017-18 with two of my club mates from Adur, they were two of the nicest women and probably an unexpected win which made it all the more special.
“Winning a gold medal in the triples at the Atlantic Championships in 2019 with Jamie-Lea Marshall and Sian Honnor – it was a long tournament and we had to fight in the second week to make sure we didn’t come away empty handed, to end up with a gold was a fantastic feeling, especially after having broken my arm on the green in 2017.
“Winning my first British Isles title – fours in 2022 in Belfast; I was starting to think I’d never win one after a few final defeats.”
Having been around the bowls world for a long time, Lorraine has a good idea of what makes a good team manager, and this year decided to throw her hat in the ring and apply for the role of EIBA women’s Under 25 team manager.
Her appointment was met with praise from her colleagues and friends.
“I’ve always been interested in the management side of the game and enabling and empowering others to fulfil their potential is something I find extremely rewarding,” Lorraine told me.
“The experiences players encounter during the Under 25 stage of their career can be fundamental to whether they decide to walk away from the game or go on to achieve greater things, therefore I feel very passionate about making it an enjoyable, worthwhile experience that people strive to be a part of.
“Some of the managers I had at this level had a massive impact on my own career, so I relish the opportunity to positively do this for others.”
Lorraine has clear ideas about the sort of manager she wants to be, which she believes must start with gaining the trust of players.
“Being honest, open, relatable and ensuring the team know you are always there for them are key parts of this role,” she added.
“It’s important that we as a management team are passionate about the honour that comes with representing your country and wanting to succeed with the shirt on – leading by example and making your team one that everyone wants to be a part of.
“Being clear about your aims and goals and creating a culture that supports players to maximise their potential, be receptive of constructive feedback (both players and managers) and be willing to put in the commitment required to deliver the highest level of performance is what I’m aiming for.
“I am also looking forward to spending time getting to know the players and their characters both on and off the green.”
When asked about what her management style will be, Lorraine says ‘a coach or mentor to the players.’
“I want the squad as well as prospective and aspiring players to feel that I am approachable,”
“I will make my expectations of players very clear, in terms of their commitment levels, play and behaviours. Luckily, I have a great management team around me, and I think together we will make the team a respected and desirable place to be.
“I remember the first time I played for England I just wanted to go back and do it again and again. I loved every minute of it; the pride when wearing the England shirt and the sense of feeling part of a team made the whole thing feel really special, a key moment in my career.
“I had put a lot of time into the game so getting that first bit of recognition was a great moment for me and my family, as I’m sure it is for every player that achieves
“It’s the first time you get to test yourself under the pressure of representing something bigger and also your opportunity to get yourself recognised on the international stage – you want to ensure that the first impression is a good one and people don’t look forward to playing you again (in the nicest possible way)!
“The atmosphere was like nothing else I’d ever experienced, and one of the few times I felt recognised as a sportswoman – I really wanted to bottle it up and take it to county and club level!”
Caption: Lorraine (left) with close friend and bowls partner Katherine Hawes when they won their county pairs
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