Kulick sees win as breakthrough

Professional bowler Kelly Kulick was a fictional heroine when she was featured in a Spider-Man comi

Professional bowler Kelly Kulick was a fictional heroine when she was featured in a Spider-Man comic book.

Now she’s a real one.

The 31-year-old Union, N.J., nat­ive became the first woman to win a PBA Tour men’s event last Sunday when she defeated Chris Barnes, 265-195, in the 45th PBA Tourn­ament of Champions at Red Rock Lanes in Las Vegas.

Kulick has made the media tours around the country, appearing on numerous television and radio programs, and in many news­paper and magazine articles since her achievement. The largest television aud­ience in five years (1.7 million viewers) saw her victory.

During a national teleconference for bowling writers and other journalists Thursday, Kulick expounded on her performance.

“The sport of bowling has been shaken up by what I’ve done,” said Kulick, who was also the first woman to earn a PBA Tour exemption (2006-07) after rolling a 300 game on the final day of the 2006 PBA Tour Trials. She was also the second woman to win a PBA Regional title in 2006.

“I just want this to give me a job for more than two more years. I grew up loving what I was doing,” she said. “I would love to see women have a full-time tour again, and I want to put myself out there for the world to see with endorsements, maybe the face of a new product. I want the sport of bowling to benefit, as well as myself.”

Currently, women professionals compete on what’s called the PBA Women’s Series, a modified tour that only lasts several weeks. Kulick won her first PBA Women’s Series title in the inaugural PBA Women’s World Championship Sept. 5 in Detroit, and it was that win which earned her a berth in the PBA Tournament of Champions.

Kulick, the 2001 Professional Women’s Bowling Association Rookie of the Year, won the 2003 U.S. Women’s Open for her first professional title, but she was forced to compete against the men when the women’s tour ceased operations in 2003. She also won the 2007 USBC Queens title.

“If I had to choose between a men’s or women’s tour, I would rather compete on the women’s tour. I just feel men and women should have their separate venues. It shouldn’t be about gender.”

The three-time first-team collegiate All-American at Morehead (Ky.) State thought about giving up the game as a full-time job a few weeks before her monumental victory.

“How close was I to stepping away? I had a lot of free time a few weeks ago, and I was researching classes at the Institute of Culinary Education,” she said. “I actually sent an inquiry to them. I was thinking about going down a different path, but bowling was always going to be something I was going to do, if only as a hobby.”

Kulick said she was able to overcome her disadvantage in the power department with her fitness reg­imen — she’s in the gym five times a week — and with her release, which helped get her ball past the heads during the finals.

Except for the money —

Kulick now has $75,000 after her win — Kulick said her new fame won’t change her.

“I will always be Kelly Kulick,” she said. “This won’t change me. The reason I got here is because I’m the person that I am.”

Categories: Sports

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