Jamie and Dee Taafe – Guardians of the Lanes

By Matt Stevens
May 22, 2024

As Australia celebrates National Volunteer Week, Tenpin Bowling Australia (TBA) proudly shines a spotlight on Jamie and Dee Taafe, a formidable husband and wife duo whose selfless dedication to junior tenpin bowling has left a lasting mark.

Since 2005, the pair have served tirelessly in various capacities within the sport, but are most renowned for their roles as Team Managers for the Junior National Training Squad (NTS). They have not only overseen but also nurtured young talent performing on numerous international stages. This year, their decision to step down from high-performance commitments marks not an end, but a transition, as they embrace new family roles as grandparents while leaving behind a legacy rich with passion that has shaped the trajectory of junior tenpin bowling for over a decade.

Jamie and Dee Taafe’s entry into the world of tenpin bowling began, as it does for many sporting parents, through their children.

Their journey started in 1994 at AMF Sunshine and soon expanded to Werribee Superbowl, where Jamie began managing Goldpin Junior Shield teams. This initial involvement quickly escalated into a series of more substantial roles, reflecting the couple’s background in sports. “It seemed a natural progression for us, having come from swimming and water polo backgrounds, to be involved in the administration of the sport, especially at the junior levels,” the couple explained.

This understatement belies the whirlwind of activity that would follow. Jamie’s role trajectory took a steep climb when he became the team manager for Victoria’s President’s Shield team in 2005. He was then recruited to the Victorian Tenpin Bowling Association (TBAV) Board as Treasurer in 2007, elected as President in 2008, and took up his first national team manager role in 2010 for the Australian team heading to the World Youth Bowling Championships in Helsinki, Finland. His national role expanded in the following years, including managing the team at the 13th Asian Schools Bowling Championships in Bangkok, Thailand in 2011.

L-R – Jamie Taafe, Chris Batson, Sam Cooley, Wayne Parlby, Lorraine McLaughlan at the 2010 World Youth Championships in Helsinki, Finland.

After a short tenure as TBAV President, Jamie joined the Tenpin Bowling Australia (TBA) Board in 2008, serving as Chairman and as a member of both the Finance and Governance Committees. He returned to his role as TBAV President in 2019, a position he holds to this day. Dee, ever the supportive partner, stepped into the spotlight in 2009 as Victoria’s President’s Shield Girls Team Manager and solidified her position in 2015.

L-R – Jamie Taafe as Chairman of the Board at TBA / Jamie and Dee Taafe Managing their states President’s Shield team in 2015.

In 2017, Jamie and Dee’s paths took them back to the national high-performance scene as they were selected as Team Managers for the national team participating in the 18th Asian Schools Tenpin Bowling Championships in Kuching, Malaysia. This marked the beginning of their six-year tenure managing the Junior National Training Squad (NTS18), embodying their commitment to fostering future generations.

“The expression of interest for Managers in the TBA NTS18 squad seemed like a great way to ‘give back,'” they shared. “We were keen to ensure that the NTS concept was grounded in providing improved opportunities for those athletes who would become the future of our sport. It seemed natural that our involvement at centre and State levels would lead us to become involved at the National level.”

Jamie and Dee Taafe Involvement in Team Australia Campaigns

YearNameTBA NTS18Team AustraliaEvent
July / August 2010Jamie Taafe Team ManagerWorld Youth Bowling Championships, Helsinki, Finland
July, 2011Jamie Taafe Team Manager13th Asian Schools Bowling Championships, Bangkok, Thailand
November, 2017Jamie & Dee TaafeTeam ManagersTeam Managers18th Asian Schools Tenpin Bowling Championships, Kuching, Malaysia
Sept / Oct, 2018Jamie & Dee TaafeTeam ManagersTeam Managers19th Asian Schools Tenpin Bowling Championships, Taichung, Chinese Taipai
July, 2019Jamie & Dee TaafeTeam ManagersTeam Managers20th Asian Schools Tenpin Bowling Championships, Hong Kong, China
2020Jamie & Dee TaafeTeam Managers COVID-19 impacted
2021Jamie & Dee TaafeTeam Managers COVID-19 impacted
Sept / Oct, 2022Jamie & Dee TaafeTeam ManagersTeam Managers2022 TBA NTS18 Auckland, New Zealand (TBNZ Championships; TBNZ Youth Teams Challenge; and inaugural Trans-Tasman Challenge)
August, 2023Jamie & Dee TaafeTeam ManagersTeam Managers22nd Asian Junior Tenpin Bowling Championships, Singapore

Each event was not just a competition where they played a role in capturing medals for Australia, but a chapter in their ever-enriching story of dedication and love for the sport.

The extensive involvement was first acknowledged in 2022 when Jamie was deservedly awarded a recipient of the 2022 Queen’s Birthday honours, being appointed a member of the Order of Australia (General Division) for services to Tenpin Bowling and Swimming.

The responsibilities of Jamie and Dee extended far beyond the basic logistics of travel and accommodation. As architects of comfort and morale, they coordinated everything from meal plans to practice sessions, ensuring that each young athlete felt at home, no matter how far from it they actually were. Their roles required a delicate ballet of logistics and empathy, a challenge they met with grace and efficiency, leveraging Jamie’s extensive experience in management and governance honed through his roles at Wesley College and various tenpin bowling associations.

“In many ways, while some may have found that our roles and responsibilities changed over time, we were always striving for simplicity in communication and planning. We were implementing the successful strategies that we employed at State Team and State Development Squad level. The time investment has been made simpler over the past couple of years with both of us having now retired,” the couple shared.

“We don’t know that there were too many difficulties associated with our roles—while outside our control, the lack of funding to support our international teams has always been a difficult situation to confront. We’re hopeful that future teams will not be as financially impacted,” added the Taafe’s.

2023 Team Australia after Emily Hart captures a silver in the girl’s singles event at the 22nd Asian Junior Tenpin Bowling Championships in Singapore

When asked about their most cherished memories, Jamie and Dee Taafe reminisce about the joys of witnessing young athlete’s flourish.

“Our involvement allowed us to interact, support, and mentor some of the best junior athletes in Australia; it gave us immense pleasure to see those athletes develop and mature,” they shared. This nurturing has led to countless athletes not only succeeding in the sport but also becoming exemplary representatives of their country on the global stage.

Their commitment also fostered deep connections with other key figures in the sport, turning professional relationships into a close-knit community that resembles a family more than a team.

“From an Australian team perspective, we’ve had the opportunity to be involved alongside some great coaches and managers—Chris Batson, Wayne Parlby, Bob Alexander, Dennis Rigney, Kathy Russell, Jason Taafe, Shane Bernhardt, Bianca Flanagan, Simon Pearce, Cameron Walsh, Hayden George, Lorraine McLoughlin, Sharon Rigney, and Lyn Alexander, to just name a few,” explained the couple.

Through these collaborations, they have not only influenced countless lives but have also been instrumental in building a supportive and enduring environment within the sport.

L-R – The A Team – Simon Pearce, Bianca Flanagan, Dee Taafe, Jamie Taafe, Shane Bernhardt at the 2018 Asian Schools Championship in Chinese Taipei.

2023 marks the end of an era for Australian tenpin bowling, as Jamie and Dee Taafe decided it was time to step back, driven by a desire to focus on their growing family. “It is simply our time to step away… with retirement comes a shift in our focus to travel and family,” they explained. This decision, while bittersweet, underscores their enduring commitment to family values—both personal and professional.

Team Australia Officials at the 2023 Asian Junior Tenpin Bowling Championship in Singapore. L-R: Hayden George, Cameron Walsh, Bob Alexander, Lyn Alexander, Dee Taafe, and Jamie Taafe.

Though they are stepping down, the legacy of Jamie and Dee Taafe remains strong. They leave behind a sport greatly enriched by their commitment and affection. Their involvement has established a high standard for parental engagement in sports, demonstrating that the role of a manager extends far beyond mere logistics, encompassing character building, mentorship, and fostering a sense of community.

As they transition to their new roles as grandparents and travellers, Jamie and Dee remain passionately connected to the sport they love, eager to follow and support the futures they have helped shape. Their story is not merely one of sporting success but of profound personal impact—a narrative of dedication, guidance, and nurturing the next generation of athletes.

In every respect, Jamie and Dee Taafe have done more than manage a team; they have cultivated a community, leaving a lasting mark on the world of Australian Tenpin Bowling.

Their contributions were celebrated at a recent function at Aussie World on the Sunshine Coast during the TBA National Junior Championships in Queensland. Here, in front of many athletes they’ve influenced, both were honoured for their service. Amid the fun and rides, a special presentation highlighted the significant roles they’ve played, not just in developing skilled bowlers but in shaping individuals.

As Jamie and Dee look forward to spending more time with family and embracing new adventures, the tenpin bowling community remains grateful for their immeasurable contributions. Tenpin Bowling Australia extends its deepest gratitude to Jamie and Dee for their outstanding service and wishes them the best in the next phase of their lives.

Jamie & Dee Taafe receive an award for their contributions at the recent 2024 TBA National Junior Championships.