Erik Galipeau is a 16 year old born and raised Etobicoke resident. He is currently a grade 10 student at Silverthorn Collegiate Institute who plays for the West Mall Lightning AA hockey team, but who has also taken the lawn bowls world by storm.
Commonly perceived as a “retiree’s hobby”, lawn bowls is a highly competitive and very popular sport in many countries around the world. “Bowls” is a sport played by many young people and uniquely shared by generations playing together.
An article written in the Etobicoke Guardian inviting kids to come out and play bowls at Etobicoke Lawn Bowling Club captured the interest of Erik almost four years ago. The club was soliciting young players to join and participate in the 2014 Canadian Junior National Championships. Erik went to the open house and it was love right from the rolling of his first bowl.
That first season at Etobicoke, Erik played lots of bowls and received some great instruction from some of the best in-house players and also from current and former National team members.
The 2015 season was the start of Erik’s rise to prominence in Ontario’s youth bowls. A respectable 5th place finish in the Provincial Championship at the beginning of the season was followed by dominating the remainder of the youth tournaments for the rest of the season. He finished the year winning the 2015 Earl Mayer Youth Bowler of the Year. His success was not limited to the junior tournaments – Erik was a member of the District 10 Men’s Triples Championship Team who competed in the Provincial Championship just outside of Ottawa.
Erik credits his quick rise to success to the amazing players who had provided him with expert coaching and advice. Half way through the summer of 2015, John Bezear, a former Australian Men’s National Champion and silver medalist at the World Championships and a former member of Canada’s National team started coaching Erik. Since teaming up with John, Erik’s game has risen to new heights.
In 2016, Erik finished 3rd in the Junior Provincials and 5th in the Junior Nationals. Erik also participated in the Provincial Championship as his District Champion in Men’s Singles, Men’s Triples, Men’s Fours, and Men’s Novices. In Novice’s he brought home a bronze medal. All this success during the season helped Erik secure a sponsorship with a local Short Mat Bowls Club – JJ Mat, an industry supplier, Perky Bowls out of Vancouver and a local charity and Foodbank, Haven on the Q.
The 2016 season ended with Erik representing Canada in the World Indoor Bowls Council U25 World Championships in Glasgow Scotland. At only 15 years old the trip was positioned as a learning experience and to get some exposure to bowls at the International level. Erik participated in the Singles event and the Mixed Triples where he was teamed up with Dominic McVittie from England and another 15 year old, Rebecca Houston from Scotland. The three team mates played flawlessly through the competition remaining undefeated and ending the finals with a convincing straight set win to bring home a World Championship to Canada. “Winning in Scotland was the most incredible experience. I have so many people to thank that have helped me. Getting a taste of winning only makes me want to work harder, represent Canada, and win more championships!” The Championship win was only the third World Championship by a Canadian and the first in over 10 years. Erik was also the youngest male to ever win at a World Indoor U25 event.
Indoor lawn bowling is a sport that flies under the radar, but I think Erik has the potential to bring it into the limelight if he keeps on winning. He’s a natural athlete and has a wonderful personality” says Joanne Noble, Chair of the Board of the Etobicoke Sports Hall of Fame.