P.E.I.'s Amy Spence has never left Canada and didn't dream of travelling for sports — but in a few months time she'll do both.
Come December, Spence will be in Ireland for the international lawn bowling championships after dominating the competition at the 2022 Canadian Youth Championships in Mississauga, Ont.
"It was very shocking. I went and I didn't think I was going to win," she said. "When I won I actually did cry, because I was so excited."
Spence is now the Under-25 Canadian junior women's lawn bowling champion, playing out of the Sherwood Lawn Bowling Club in Charlottetown. The 21-year-old went undefeated throughout the national tournament, and claimed the gold medal with a 21-8 victory over opponent (and close friend) Alexis Gallacher from Alberta.
It was a competitive run, but what draws her to the sport and keeps her coming back is not just being good at it, but the camaraderie on the green.
"It's just a great atmosphere. Everyone is friendly. It's competitive but it's never, like, serious," she said. "Going across Canada, I've made so many friends, so getting to go just hang out with people I know, play against people I know, is great."
I didn't expect it to be what it was when my mom said we were going lawn bowling, that it was going to be bowling — on the lawn. - Amy Spence
She describes the sport as a meeting between curling and bowling — two sports with much more in common than some might think.
The strategy, style, finesse and flair of both sports meld into a fun, easy-to-learn summertime favourite for many.
"I didn't expect it to be what it was when my mom said we were going lawn bowling, that it was going to be bowling — on the lawn," she said with a laugh. "It's amazing."
'I follow her everywhere,' mom says
Not only did her mom introduce her to the sport, she's been there for every major moment since the beginning.
"She takes me everywhere. She does everything," Spence said. "My mom is my number-one supporter. I always have someone to talk to after a game…. It's great."
Spence's mother, Brenda Carr, will almost certainly be in Ireland for the world championships. Her dad cheers along from home, but Mom has to be there.
"I am her number-one supporter. I follow her everywhere for every sport she ever plays," Carr said. "We've pretty well been to every province for her alley bowling or lawn bowling."
Carr's Facebook page is full of photos of her daughter and their travels together, beaming when Spence celebrates a win — but also sharing respect, smiles and emotional moments with fellow parents and friends along the way.
For Carr, "it's exciting and it's nerve-wracking" to see her daughter play.
Seeing her daughter compete on the world stage will no doubt bring up those feelings — but in the end she just wants Spence to have fun and have more chances to represent her country for years to come.
"I just like to see her do well in the sport. I mean, when she's going to these worlds, it would be nice to get a win or two," Carr said.
"She's actually thinking about trying to put her name towards Team Canada so she can represent Canada at other events at some point in the future, which would be pretty cool."