March 16, 1977
Union Township, New Jersey
|Occupation||Ten Pin Bowler|
|Competitor for United States|
|Gold||2013 Cali||Mixed doubles|
Kelly Kulick (born March 16, 1977) is an American professional bowler from Union Township, New Jersey. She has won nine professional women's bowling titles (six of them majors) and one PBA Tour title (a major).
Kulick is the first woman ever to win a regular Professional Bowlers Association tour title, winning the 2010 PBA Tournament of Champions in Las Vegas on January 24, 2010. (See: PBA Bowling Tour: 2009-10 season.) After finishing the weekly qualifying as the #2 seed, she defeated #3 qualifier Mika Koivuniemi to advance to the final against 12-time titleist and 2007-08 PBA Player of the Year Chris Barnes. In the final, she threw 10 strikes in a dominating 265-195 win. This earned Kelly a 2-year exemption to compete on the PBA Tour.
(The previous high finish for a female in a regular PBA Tour event was second place, accomplished by Liz Johnson at the 2005 Banquet Open. The first woman to defeat a man in a televised championship bowling match was Lynda Barnes, who defeated Sean Rash in the finals of the 2008 USBC Clash of the Champions—a non-PBA made-for-TV event broadcast nationally in the U.S. on CBS-TV.)
Billie Jean King, former tennis superstar and head of the Women's Sports Foundation, summed up the impact of Kulick's TOC victory:
"Kelly Kulick's win at the PBA Tour's Tournament of Champions is not only historic, it serves as a motivational and inspirational event for girls and women competing at all levels all around the world."
Kulick is a former two-time Collegiate Bowler of the Year and two-time All-American from Morehead State University. She graduated from Morehead State with a degree in Physical and Health Education. As an amateur, Kulick has been a seven-time member of Team USA (1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2008, 2010 and 2011). She was part of the 2011 team that took home the United States' first gold medal in the team event since 1987.
Kulick began her professional career with the now defunct Professional Women's Bowling Association (PWBA), winning the 2001 Rookie of the Year Award. She also won the 2003 U.S. Women's Open. After the demise of the PWBA, Kulick began bowling in the PBA Eastern Region. In 2005-06, Kulick cashed in 12 of the 14 regional events in which she competed.
The PBA opened its membership to women in April 2004 after the Professional Women's Bowlers Association folded. The PBA Tour switched to an all-exempt field in 2004-05, with 58 bowlers earning full-time exemptions for each season. Two women — Liz Johnson and Carolyn Dorin-Ballard — had previously gained entry to PBA Tour events through weekly qualifying.
On June 4, 2006, Kulick made history by becoming the first female professional bowler to earn a PBA Tour exemption (see PBA Bowling Tour: 2005-06 season). This allowed her to compete in every PBA event of the 2006-07 season. Kulick was quoted in 2006 as saying, "To be the first woman is huge...words can't even describe the feeling. I feel confident I can be a good enough competitor to stay out on Tour. My next goal is to make a television show and become the first woman to win a PBA Tour title." During the 2006-07 season, however, Kulick only made five cuts, finished 54th in points, and lost her PBA exempt status. Kulick was also unsuccessful in her attempt to regain an exemption for the 2007-08 season at the 2007 PBA Tour Trials.
Kelly did rebound by winning the USBC Queens event in May, 2007.
In 2008, Kelly won the PBA Senior Ladies and Legends with Robert Harvey and won the PBA Women's Series Shark Championship in 2009.
Also in 2009, Kelly defeated Shannon Pluhowsky, 219-204, to win the inaugural PBA Women's World Championship -- the first women's major tournament under PBA sanction. The finals were contested September 6, 2009, and aired October 25 on ESPN. With the win, Kulick earned a spot in the 2010 PBA Tournament of Champions, where she was the first-ever female competitor in the field. In this event, which took place in January 2010, Kulick soundly defeated the field of male bowlers to become the first woman to win any PBA Tour event that was also open to men. She also locked up a two-year PBA Tour exemption.
Kulick's amazing 2010 continued when she won her second USBC Queens crown on April 28, 2010, then won the U.S. Women's Open on May 12, 2010. For her efforts, she was presented with three awards at the PBA Hall of Fame induction ceremonies on January 22, 2011: the 2010 Bowlers Journal Person of the Year, the 2010 World Bowling Writers International Bowler of the Year, and the 2010 Glenn Allison Hero Award.
On June 4, 2011, Kelly won the 44th Singapore International Open.
On June 30, 2011, Kelly had the chance to be the first woman in 32 years to successfully defend a U.S. Women's Open title, when she averaged over 241 and qualified as the #1 seed for the event in Arlington, Texas. But Kulick rolled her lowest game of the entire tournament in the televised finals, getting upset by Leanne Hulsenberg, 218-183. Kelly rebounded by winning the 2012 U.S. Women's Open, in the process becoming only the third woman (besides Marion Ladewig and Patty Costello) to win the event at least three times. Liz Johnson would join that exclusive group the following year, with her third U.S. Women's Open win.
Kulick has won back-to-back World Bowling Tour (WBT) Women's Finals at the World Series of Bowling in Las Vegas, NV. She defeated Missy Parkin in 2013 and Liz Johnson in 2014. The WBT Finals is a non-title tournament, with finalists based on a rolling points list from WBT tournaments over the previous two years.
In the media
Kelly Kulick was featured as a supporting character in Spider-Man's cast, as friend and former girlfriend of Flash Thompson, starting with Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man #20. She was written into the comic after bowling a pro-am event with the daughter of one of the Spider-Man writers. Her main goal was to have an actual role in the movie, such as Parker's girlfriend. It was not to be due to Kulick's objection to a wet-shirt make out scene in Spiderman.
Kulick has also endorsed several clothing lines, including many bathing suit lines, following her win at the Tournament of Champions.
Kelly posed nude (with strategically placed shadows) for ESPN The Magazine's annual "Bodies We Want" issue in October, 2011. The issue featured Kulick along with 19 other professional athletes, both male and female. Kulick is the first bowler to ever appear in this issue.
Kelly Kulick appears in an ESPN Bridgestone commercial, also including sports reporter Michelle Beadle, in which she rolls a bowling ball made of special rubber down a long lane through three separate sets of ten pins, knocking down all of them along the way. At the end of the commercial, she is seen with the Bridgestone scientist trying to pry the prototype away from him.
- Macur, Juliet (2006-06-15). "Woman Breaks Pin Barrier by Making the Pro Tour". The New York Times. Retrieved 2006-06-14.
- Former Team USA member makes history
- Professional Bowler's Association
- Profile of Kelly Kulick
- USA Today chat transcript June 16, 2006
- "Kelly Kulick makes sports history as first woman to win a PBA Tour title." Article at www.pba.com on January 24, 2010.
- Wiseman, Lucas. "Barnes wins Bowling's Clash of Champions." Article at www.bowl.com, May 11, 2008.
- "Comments from Women's Sports Foundations Founder Billie Jean King on Kelly Kulick's T of C victory." Article at www.pba.com on January 24, 2010.
- Schneider, Jerry. "Kulick Honored for Her Place in History at International Women's Day Reception." Article at www.pba.com on March 9, 2010. 
- "Kulick Wins PBA Women's World Championship, Sullins Takes Senior Title." Article at www.pba.com, October 25, 2009.
- Wiseman, Lucas. "Kulick takes USBC Queens title." Article at www.bowl.com on April 28, 2010. 
- Wiseman, Lucas. "Kulick takes another major title, wins U.S. Women's Open." Article at www.bowl.com on May 12, 2010. 
- Schneider, Jerry. "Pedersen, Eagle and Nicholson Inducted into PBA Hall of Fame in Las Vegas." Article at www.pba.com on January 23, 2011. 
- "Leanne Hulsenberg triumphs in the 2011 Bowling's U.S. Women's Open." Article at www.bowlingdigital.com on July 2, 2011. 
- "Kulick named June Bowler of the Month." Article at www.bowl.com on July 6, 2012. 
- Vint, Bill (January 25, 2015). "Haugen Koivuniemi, Kulick Win WBT Finals Titles; Experimental “Frame Play” Scoring System Unveiled". PBA.com. Retrieved January 26, 2015.
- Stone, Rob. Transcript of ESPN's Women's World Championship broadcast, October 25, 2009.
- U.S. Bowler, October 2011 issue
- Vint, Bill. "For Kelly Kulick, ESPN the Magazine 'Exposure' Is Good for Bowling." Article at www.pba.com on October 6, 2011.