Coach Kaye acknowledged for Volunteer Work

By Tenpin Bowling Australia
February 17, 2023

Tenpin Bowling Australia wishes to congratulate Kaye Talbot for winning the Citizen of the Year award as part of the City of Darwin Australia Day Citizen Awards.

The City of Darwin Australia Day Citizen Awards presents a great opportunity to celebrate and acknowledge people or groups that have given back to the community and helped others.

Based in the Northern Territory (NT),  Kaye has been volunteering to help enrich the lives of people with disability for more than 15 years.

“I was very surprised, shocked, and felt a little overwhelmed when I found out I was receiving this award, very unexpected,” explained Talbot. “It was a pleasure sharing the day, mixing with the other winners and learning about what they do and are passionate about”.

The Australia Day Citizen of the Year Award reward and recognise individuals and organisations that:

  • Have made a noteworthy contribution during the current year and/or
  • Have provided an outstanding service over a number of years, to a local community to improve the lives of others
  • Who are role models, quiet achievers, or leaders in our community

Always a person who has played sports and volunteered, before bowling, Talbot played, umpired, and coached softball. Arriving in the Territory in 1991 from Adelaide, where she grew up, she took to the lanes after damaging her right shoulder and explored the opportunities within Tenpin Bowling.

“I started coaching after taking up a beginner coaching clinic run by June Voukolos and Debbie Halprin. Then assisting them with a Development Squad for juniors.  In 2022 I went to Brisbane to complete my Level 2 with Gail Torrens, who was inspirational,” explained Talbot.

“The coach of the Winners league for people with a disability decided to retire and approached me to take over the coaching of the league.

“At first, I was hesitant, nervous, and unsure as to how I could do this, but I took my time letting the bowlers get used to me being there and getting to know me,  the rest is history” added Talbot.

Now affectionately known as Coach Kaye or Coach Tigger, Talbot is a well-respected and vital member of the bowling community in the Territory. One person who witnessed Kaye’s impact was Northern Territory Tenpin Bowling Association president and good friend Janine Matheson.

“I have known Kaye since I arrived in the Territory 23 years ago and was privileged to have been coached both individually and as a member of an NT representative team on more than one occasion,” explained Matheson.

“I have witnessed Kaye’s success as an athlete, coach, and administrator and in every aspect of the sport that Kaye has been involved in.

“In every aspect, she has undertaken with passion, humility, and commitment,” added Matheson.

Initially taking up the sport to help with her shoulder injury from Softball, Kaye quickly adapted to her newfound sport and became a highly decorated bowler in the Territory.

Competing in open events in the NT,  nationally, and as a regular member of the NT Rachuig team (awarded recognition for 200 games), Kaye became the NT Adult Masters winner in 2002 and 2008 and the NT Seniors Masters winner in 2005, 2006, and 2015.  

Award plaudits for her bowling career also include

  • Female Senior Bowler of the Year (NTTBA Sports Awards in 2009 and 2013)
  • Member of the winning ladies Rachuig team in 2008, which provided recognition at the Northern Territory Sports Awards after winning the Team of the Year Award
  • Broken Australian national records and was a regular competitor in the Arafura Games and Arafura Classic and even undertook the role of Tournament secretary of events.
  • A winner of many titles in the Darwin City Championships over the years, she has also travelled to Seniors events in Manila, Seoul, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur and Hong Kong, representing Australia.
  • Nominated in the category “Coach of the Year” in 2010 and 2016 for Northern Territory Sports Awards and was one of the 3  finalists with the winners being AFL and Rugby respectively.

Her passion as a bowler, whilst always there, edged towards helping people in the coaching space.

After receiving her Level Two coach accreditation in 2002, she travelled with the NT Walter De Veer Team in 2003, winning Gold and Bronze in Women’s and Men’s teams, respectively, and gold in the overall pointscore. This was the first time NT was crowned the combined champions.

In 2007, after taking over the Winners League for bowlers with a disability, which began her long career as a specialist coach forming bonds with players and parents alike, and was highly respected in the community.

Travelling to every National Championships for bowlers with a disability since 2009, Kaye has nurtured great success for both teams and individuals. Her team won the TBA restricted Cup five years in a row and the Cole Cup several times, all adding up to an impressive record for any coach.

“Coach Kaye is dedicated to the player’s enjoyment of the game. She listens to them and finds a way to work with each of them, no matter what the disability is” explained Matheson.

“Kaye has a unique relationship with each player and knows how to explain what they need to do, utilising different approaches for each player to suit the range of disabilities she encounters as they differ in ability, cognitive function, and physical ability.

“Kaye is admired and respected by the bowlers, parents, and carers, which has inspired the love of the sport that the bowlers have and their keenness to do well at the National Championship,” added Matheson.

The players coached by Kaye always strive to show what they can do.

A group of players has a running competition where the 5-pin is left standing. If it happens, you will hear the bowl shout to alert Kaye, that they or another player has left the 5-pin. All eyes then turn to the player to knock it down; if they don’t, they go into Kaye’s ‘book’. The book keeps a tally of misses and records of who must shout Kaye a drink. Of course, the drinks never happen, but it’s the fun of being ‘in the book’ and an example of the fun atmosphere Kaye generates.

Often the case with volunteer coaches, the bowling coach is much more than just a coach.

From whizzing up and down between the lanes and coaching each one of her 15 plus bowlers at Championships to being a travel agent to parents and carers with support and encouragement, she tapes fingers, cleans shoes, explains membership to parents/carers, encourages participation in other bowling centres and helps them with selecting new equipment.

“She’s a friend whom players may confide in, and she knows how to build them up after a bad game,” said Matheson.

“Kaye listens intently to the bowlers and seems to give the correct response in those heated moments.

“When Kaye steps in, it’s automatic respect. They listen, have their say, and then get on with the job on the lanes. She has a special ability to relate and communicate with the bowlers, and that’s why she had so much success,” added Matheson.

Thirty-one years have passed since taking that first step into an unknown sport. Countless hours of service to the sport of tenpin bowling and people with a disability, yet, Talbot shares she has received as much as she has put in.

“I enjoy what I do, and it’s so rewarding not only to have the pleasure of coaching over 40 bowlers with a disability from Juniors to over 60’s, but I have also learned a lot from them,” explained Talbot.

“To see bowlers improve from bowling in C & D grades at nationals to now bowling in A, B, and C grades have been great.

“Their enthusiasm and dedication to improvement are inspiring,” added Talbot.

It’s been a tough few years for Kaye and bowlers based in the Northern Territory. Planet Tenpin was Darwin’s only bowling centre and closed two years ago. Still, Coach Kaye and the NT bowling community continue to find a way to be involved and continue their representation at the Disability National Championships.

“Without Planet Tenpin, it makes it very difficult for our bowlers with a disability to participate where it makes financial sense,” explained Talbot. “Thankfully, Kingpin Darwin has offered us an opportunity to train weekly on Monday nights for those that can attend at a discounted price which we appreciate and hope we can continue with.” 

The recent Australia Day recognition adds to an already impressive resume of acknowledgments.

She was inducted into the NT Tenpin Hall of Fame in 2021 for her ongoing service and commitment to Tenpin Bowling, highlighted by her work with bowlers with a disability.

Tenpin Bowling Australia wishes to congratulate Kaye on her achievement and recognise the incredible long service she has provided to the sport. Her continued volunteering efforts and advocacy for the rights of people with a disability to be supported is inspirational.