Alumni Profile: Kelli Wray
Kelli Wray is a much-loved member of staff at Santa Maria College. She was also a member of the Class of 2005. What many people don’t realise about Kelli is that she has competed at an elite level in both bowls and hockey. In bowls, she represented Australia and has also succeeded in breaking down boundaries in the sport.
We recently asked Kelli to talk to us about her bowls career and life since school.
What were the highlights of your bowls career?
There have been a few including:
- I was the first junior girl to represent the sport in Western Australia at the age of 11.
- Being the youngest ever winner of the State Singles, Triples and Pairs events.
- Representing Australia on my debut at the Asia Pacific Games and winning a gold medal, with my family there watching.
- Coaching the USA Team in the 2012 Asia Pacific Games.
What did you learn about life and yourself through bowls?
Playing bowls provides you with the opportunity to play with people of all ages and abilities, and with each game you play, you learn life skills including success, disappointments, achieving goals and how to overcome defeat.
For me personally, the many years of playing elite hockey and bowls taught me that with hard work and dedication you can succeed, and now I use those previous experiences from bowls to coach other athletes to achieve their dreams.
What was your greatest challenge?
Many people saw bowls as an ‘older person’s’ game, and to change people’s perspective on that was the greatest challenge. Even when I won state events I was still not allowed to be selected for nationals because of my age. However, now bowls is seen as a young person’s sport with thousands participating and competing across the country.
What is your role at Santa Maria now?
I am a groundskeeper at the College where I help maintain the grounds, turf, and gardens throughout the school. I also have a coaching business.
What is it like to be back in your old school?
Well, the first day starting back at Santa Maria College I struggled to call a number of previous teachers by their first name. I was still calling them ‘Ms’. There is this door at reception that says ‘No Student Access’, it took me a while to know I could go through that door now as I am no longer a student!