October 20, 2006 19:00
This story is courtesy of Steve Gorches, Northwest Indiana Post-Tribune
October 18, 2006
BY STEVE T. GORCHES Post-Tribune
After Kelly Kulick threw the final ball of the Denny's PBA Tour Trials last June at Stardust Bowl I in Hammond, Ind., she knew there would be plenty of media attention attached to her achievement.
Becoming the first woman to earn a full-time exemption on the Denny's PBA Tour made it inevitable.
Little did she know it was going to be way more than she, or anyone else, expected.
It started with the New York Times in the print media and continued with the Chicago Tribune and USA Today. She made the television rounds on ABC's "Good Morning America" and "World News Tonight", CNN and, of course, ESPN, the home of the PBA.
The 29-year-old also got to throw out the ceremonial first-pitch at a White Sox game on Aug. 12 and deliver the Sox lineup card the following day during a series against the Detroit Tigers.
That's quite a lot of attention to handle for a down-to-earth, laid back girl from Union, N.J., who was only used to moderate media attention in the now-defunct Professional Women's Bowling Association.
"Yes and no," Kulick said when asked if she had gotten used to it. "Within the industry it was really big and I expected that with Bowler's Journal and bowling writers. But when the New York Times article came out it was just like a domino effect."
It's going to get worse starting this weekend when the PBA season officially opens with the USBC Masters in Milwaukee.
Kulick will easily be the biggest story in the PBA this season after Walter Ray Williams Jr. captured his record-setting 42nd career title in the Dydo Japan Cup last month, the unofficial first event of the season.
That win broke Earl Anthony's mark of 41 career PBA Tour titles.
With that record out of the way, Kulick won't be able to escape the media flurry. But she's gotten very little time to breathe anyway, especially after winning her first PBA Regional title on Aug. 20 in Rome, N.Y., just when the attention was starting to subside.
"It's been very hectic.," she said. "I really haven't had a lot of time to myself. Since the Tour Trials, it feels like it's only been two weeks."
It's been more than three years since Kulick's last competitive professional season when the PWBA folded because of financial instability.
She was the up-and-coming superstar in that organization, earning rookie of the year honors in 2001 after a successful amateur career in college and with Team USA. Her first PWBA title was the 2003 Women's U.S. Open just before the tour closed.
Kulick has said on numerous occasions she hopes a women's tour can be resurrected, but until then she'll be a rookie all over again.
"We do need a women's tour and we also need a Women's U.S, Open again," she said. "For me it's about bowling and not about gender. I'm just doing what I love to do and I have a job again."
On her new PBA bio (only the 58 exempt player bios are featured on www.pba.com) Kulick says her favorite movie is "A League of Their Own", which is based on the true story of a female baseball league during World War II.
Starting next week Kulick will be trying to make the PBA a league of her own for at least one season.
At least one victory or a consistent effort all season that accumulates enough points and Kulick will be a mainstay for many years on the PBA.
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