Hello everyone we are back again talking to a fellow bowler. And this time we are very privileged to spend some time with a former Australian Representative in Mark Strochnetter. We have had quite a few Mark’s so far I’m sure you all realize by now.
NS – What got you into the game in the first place? Was it a family connection?
MS – I Started in 1988/89 after my dad started the year before. My older brother also started in ’88/89, then mum started in ’90. We Used to watch it on TV during mid/late 80’s. I Played other sports too so bowls was just another sport.
NS – Was there an influential person or persons that got you motivated to consider it as a full time sport?
MS – Started at the club in small county town/village which was at the back of the local pub (only 16 members at one stage), and we knew most of the other members already which helped. Most didn’t mind us playing at young age (I was 11) and were supportive.
NS – Do you get enough time during the week to practice?
MS – I only train 2 or 3 times thru the week now if possible, I rarely play comps midweek now. Family and work have taken precedence over the last number of years.
NS – What bowls do you use right now and tell me a bit about the sets you’ve used over the years?
MS – I currently use Drakes Pride Conquest and have used Drakes bowls for all but about 6 of the 26 or so years I have played. 1st 5 years were old Henselite 4 3/4 super grips and half a year with ABT 2000’s in about 2002.
NS – Been the brunt of many jokes by your mates over the years?
MS – Obviously my family were supportive of me taking up bowls, as we all started playing around the same time. I used to get the odd silly comment from friends but generally they were good about it, especially when I started to achieve a few things. A couple of school friends even started to play.
NS – Now I mentioned briefly in the intro that you have played for Australia. If you wouldn’t mind mate tell our readers what was it like for you playing at the top level?
MS – My first taste of representative bowls was at the Australian Junior Champs at South Tweed in 1995. Back then we had to win our State Junior event to play in the Nationals and I was lucky enough to play singles and ended up playing in the 4’s too as someone couldn’t make the trip. My first senior rep team was in the Northern Tasmanian team in 1995/96 onwards until I was first picked in the Tasmanian side in early 1998. I made the Australian Under 25’s from 2000-2003 and then the senior Australian squad in 2003, playing a test series against Wales. I never really had ambitions to play rep bowls, I just got lucky that I had a bit of natural ability and that the right people noticed I suppose. Saying that, I couldn’t have been happier or prouder to have been considered good enough to make any of the rep sides that I have or still do over all these years.
NS – What position do you often play in mate?
MS – I usually play Skip, having done so in Div 1 pennant since 1995, and for the Tasmanians since about 2001, with the odd series as third.
NS – Been able to play in many Grand Prix events and the big money tournaments in the last couple of years?
MS – I used to enter all off the BA Aus Opens and Grand Prix series until a few years ago and most of my local Tasmanian events, but not anymore as I have a family and also work commitments.
NS – Where do you see the game of bowls heading in this country?
MS – Locally, I think bowls has both some positive and negative points about it. On the positive, we are moving towards an “open gender” status for pennant, where clubs are able to select their best sides regardless of gender. It had not been universally supported in Tasmania but at this stage it is more of a minority that is against it. On the negative side, participation levels have been declining a little (open gender will hopefully steady/change this) but this is probably due in part to factors like longer working hours, financial pressures etc.
NS – Be in charge of any club’s state of affairs over your time where to do with bowls or the management of the club ?
MS – I have only acted as a Selector/Chairman of Selectors but I have done it over a number of years.
NS – How many clubs have you been associated with over the years mate?
MS – I have been a member of the Longford Bowls Club (just outside Launceston) for about 14-15 years, and also play for the Essendon Bowls Club (3rd season coming up) in the Victorian Metro Premier League. Previous clubs have been Lilydale (1st club), Launceston and 1 season at The Hills (Baulkham Hills) in Sydney’s Premier League in 2004.
NS – Made many friends over the journey and on the flip side have you made any bitter enemies on the green?
MS – I have made plenty of good friends over the years from playing bowls, both locally and interstate. The sport has also created a few opportunities for me too, like my job of 20 years which a fellow member at a previous club helped me get, and I have also had a small business selling bowls gear for about 13 years. Like any sport, I am sure (I know) there are people out there that dislike each other, but personally I would say I have only come across a couple of people in my time that I don’t get along with. There are probably more people out there that don’t like me though, but it’s not something that I lose sleep over!
NS – As I’m sure you know Mark the Adam Goodes controversy has been a massive issue in the AFL recently. DO youy see the game of bowls leading the way in tackling racial discrimination?
MS – Racial discrimination may play a small part in sport still, but I am sure it would just be a small minority that behave in that manor. I can’t say I have noticed that much in the bowls scene, but I am sure there is a little bit at times, just like in society in general.
NS – Tell our readers before you go mate what it was like to represent Australia in the U25’s and then the senior side?
MS – I was pretty chuffed when I was selected for the Aus U25’s squad, and then the team to go to England/Scotland after my first lot of trials. It was also a pleasant surprise to be named in the senior squad as soon as I finished in the U25’s and to play a Test, but I generally don’t get too exited, nervous or intimidated by things so I was pretty level-headed about my opportunities. My only real regret about my Senior appearance was that I was quite ill for the 2 weeks leading into the Test and had hardly been out of bed, let alone training appropriately. I discussed with the coach the possibility of pulling out but persisted and tried my best. I didn’t perform like I know I could/should have and the pouring rain didn’t help!