Eleven years ago the women lost their pro league the PWBA (Professional Women's Bowling Association). It fizzled out due to the skyrocketing costs of television tournaments, and due to dwindling sponsorships.
The two events this week and the USBC Queens Tournament in New York are the only major events left for the women. The lack of opportunity comes at a time when colleges are turning out lots of talented female bowlers like Rockford's Megan Buja. She recently graduated from Maryland-Eastern Shore.
"I just hope that the bowling community and the other community can just work together to keep on giving women more opportunities, because there's so much talent coming out of college right now, and we just don't have anything to really bowl that's big."
USBC Hall of Famer Tish Johnson remembers what it was like bowling regularly on the LPBT (Ladies Pro Bowlers Tour) and the PWBA Tours.
"I feel bad for the young girls that, you know, they're going to college, and they have a great career, and then they come out and there's really nothing for them to bowl unless they want to go and bowl overseas. I mean they've got the money over there, I don't know why we can't get the money here."
The women do have opportunities to compete against the men on the PBA Tour, but so far only one, Kelly Kulick, has been able to win a men's event. That was in 2010.
Meanwhile the battle to qualify in this week's tournaments goes on at the Cherry Bowl. In the All-Star Tournament Jodi Woessner of Oregon, Ohio emerged as the All-Star leader after six more games of qualifying. She's averaging 219.08. Alexia Ijams of Wichita, Kansas is in second place (215.33), and Shannon Pluhowsky of Dayton, Ohio is in third (213.92). Rockford's Megan Buja is the top local competitor. She's currently in eleventh place (207.67).
Leading the way in qualifying in the Senior Open is Paula Vidad of Sun City, California (199.50). Lucy Sandelin of Tampa is second (195.67). Linda Kelly of Dayton, Ohio is third (192.58), and Rochelle native Jan Schmidt is in fourth (192.08).
The action continues with six more games of qualifying on Wednesday, then the field will be cut to the top 16 for the All-Star Tournament and to eight bowlers for the Senior Open.
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