Jump to content

Kelly Kulick

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Kelly Kulick
Personal information
Born (1977-03-16) March 16, 1977 (age 47)
Union Township, New Jersey
Years active1998-present
CountryUnited States
SportTen-pin bowling
Turned pro2001
Achievements and titles
National finals8 PWBA (6 majors)
1 PBA Tour (major)
1 PBA Women's Series
1 PBA Ladies & Legends
1 International (Singapore)
Medal record
Women's bowling
Representing  United States
Event 1st 2nd 3rd
World Bowling Championships 3 5 3
World Games 2 2
Total 5 7 3
World Tenpin Bowling Championships
Gold medal – first place 1999 Abu Dhabi Singles
Gold medal – first place 2015 Abu Dhabi Team
Gold medal – first place 2017 Las Vegas Trios
Silver medal – second place 2011 Hongkong Doubles
Silver medal – second place 2013 Henderson Doubles
Silver medal – second place 2013 Henderson Team
Silver medal – second place 2015 Abu Dhabi Doubles
Silver medal – second place 2017 Las Vegas Doubles
Bronze medal – third place 1999 Abu Dhabi Trios
Bronze medal – third place 2011 Hongkong Trios
Bronze medal – third place 2015 Abu Dhabi Trios
World Games
Gold medal – first place 2013 Cali Mixed doubles
Gold medal – first place 2017 Wroclaw Singles
Silver medal – second place 2013 Cali Singles
Silver medal – second place 2017 Wroclaw Mixed doubles

Kelly Kulick (born March 16, 1977) is an American professional bowler, bowling coach and sportscaster. She has won ten professional women's bowling titles (six of them majors), one PBA Tour title (a major) and a professional mixed doubles title. Kulick is the first woman ever to win a regular Professional Bowlers Association tour title and the only woman to win a major PBA Tour tournament. She is a 16-time member of Team USA (1998–2001, 2008, 2010–2020). Kulick is currently a pro staff member for Storm Bowling, Vise grips and High 5 gear.[1][2] In 2019, Kulick was inducted into the USBC Hall of Fame, Superior Performance category.[3]

She has won four medals at The World Games, including two golds. Kulick is currently the head coach for Junior Team USA.[4]

Bowling career[edit]


Kulick is the first woman ever to win a regular Professional Bowlers Association tour title and the only woman thus far to win a major PBA Tour tournament, winning the 2010 PBA Tournament of Champions in Las Vegas on January 24, 2010. After finishing the weekly qualifying as the #2 seed, she defeated #3 qualifier Mika Koivuniemi to advance to the final against 12-time titlist 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. This feat was followed in November 2017 (although in a non-major tournament) when Liz Johnson won the PBA Chameleon Championship during the 2017 PBA World Series of Bowling.

(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. By winning her semifinal match against Wes Malott, Johnson was also the first woman to defeat a man in a televised PBA Tour event.[5] 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.[6])

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."[7]

Kulick was also one of the invitees to the International Women's Day reception, hosted by Barack Obama and Michelle Obama and held in the East Room of the White House on March 8, 2010.[8]

Amateur career[edit]

Kulick attended and bowled competitively at Morehead State University,[9] where she was a two-time Collegiate Bowler of the Year and two-time All-American. She graduated from Morehead State with a degree in Physical and Health Education.

Kulick has been a 16-time member of Team USA (1998–2001, 2008, and 2010–2020) and was on Junior Team USA in 1998 and 2000. She was part of the 2011 team that took home the United States' first gold medal in the team event of the World Tenpin Bowling Championships since 1987.

Kulick won two medals each at The World Games 2013 in Cali, Colombia and The World Games 2017 in Wrocław, Poland. In December 2015, Kulick and Team USA teammate Danielle McEwan won the Gold Medal in the doubles competition at the World Bowling Women's Championship in Abu Dhabi,[10] and she was on the Team USA squad that won the Gold Medal in the team(-of-five) competition.[11]

Overall, Kulick has won 40 medals in international competition.[3]

Original PWBA Tour[edit]

Kulick began her professional career with the Professional Women's Bowling Association (PWBA), winning the 2001 Rookie of the Year Award. She also won the 2003 U.S. Women's Open for her first PWBA Tour title and first major. The PWBA folded following the 2003 season.

PWBA Tour hiatus and competing in the PBA[edit]

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 PWBA 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 rebounded by winning the USBC Queens event in May, 2007.

In 2008, Kelly won the PBA Senior Ladies and Legends title 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.[12] 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.[13] 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. She also won the 33rd Malaysian Open in 2010.[14][15] 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.[16]

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 during qualifying to capture 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.[17] 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.[18] Liz Johnson joined 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.[19]

In 2015, Kulick won the BPAA's Dick Weber Bowling Ambassador Award, an honor given annually to the "bowling athlete who has consistently shown grace on and off the lanes by promoting the sport of bowling in a positive manner."[20]

PWBA Tour relaunch[edit]

Following the rebirth of the PWBA Tour in 2015, Kulick won the title at the PWBA Fountain Valley Open (Fountain Valley, CA) on May 23, 2017.[21] With her previous women's major wins being counted as PWBA titles, Kulick was credited with her sixth PWBA Tour championship. Kulick finished runner-up to Shannon O'Keefe in the final major of the 2017 season (The Smithfield PWBA Tour Championship), while also finishing runner-up to Liz Johnson in PWBA Player of the Year points.[22] She also finished runner-up in the last two majors of the 2018 season, the PWBA Players Championship[23] and PWBA Tour Championship.[24]

On June 5, 2021 Kulick won the PWBA Albany Open for her seventh PWBA Tour title and 12th professional title overall.[25]

Kelly Kulick's professional titles[edit]

Major tournaments in bold type.

  1. 2003 U.S. Women's Open
  2. 2007 USBC Queens
  3. 2008 PBA Ladies and Legends (doubles title with Robert Harvey; PBA Senior Tour event)
  4. 2009 PBA Women's Series Shark Championship
  5. 2009 PBA Women's World Championship
  6. 2010 PBA Tournament of Champions
  7. 2010 USBC Queens
  8. 2010 U.S. Women's Open
  9. 2011 Singapore International Open
  10. 2012 U.S. Women's Open
  11. 2017 PWBA Fountain Valley Open
  12. 2021 PWBA Albany Open

In the media[edit]

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. However, it did not happen due to Kulick's objection to a wet-shirt make out scene in Spiderman.[26]

Kulick has also endorsed several clothing lines, including many bathing suit lines, following her win at the Tournament of Champions.

Kulick 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.[27] Kulick is the first bowler to ever appear in this issue.[28]

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.

From 2016 to the present, Kulick has provided color commentary for CBS Sports Network broadcasts of the PWBA Tour, except in tournaments where she qualified for the televised finals.


Outside of bowling, Kulick enjoys cooking, country music and line dancing.[2] She is a USBC silver-certified bowling coach. In December 2021, Kulick was named head coach of Junior Team USA.[4]


  • 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


  1. ^ "Kelly Kulick - Player Profile at PWBA.com". PWBA.com. Retrieved June 3, 2024.
  2. ^ a b "Storm Athletes - Kelly Kulick". stormbowling.com. Retrieved May 3, 2021.
  3. ^ a b "Kelly Kulick - USBC profile". bowl.com. Retrieved May 24, 2023.
  4. ^ a b Cannizzaro, Matt (December 16, 2021). "USBC HALL OF FAMER KELLY KULICK NAMED JUNIOR TEAM USA HEAD COACH". bowl.com. Retrieved May 24, 2023.
  5. ^ "Kelly Kulick makes sports history as first woman to win a PBA Tour title." Article at www.pba.com on January 24, 2010.
  6. ^ Wiseman, Lucas. "Barnes wins Bowling's Clash of Champions." Article at www.bowl.com, May 11, 2008.
  7. ^ "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.
  8. ^ Schneider, Jerry. "Kulick Honored for Her Place in History at International Women's Day Reception." Article at www.pba.com on March 9, 2010. [1]
  9. ^ "Morehead State University - Bowling". Archived from the original on 2011-11-29. Retrieved 2011-11-18.
  10. ^ "2015 WWC Doubles – Final". World Bowling. December 10, 2015. Archived from the original on December 15, 2015.
  11. ^ "Results / 2015 WWC Team Final". World Bowling. December 12, 2015. Archived from the original on December 15, 2015.
  12. ^ "Kulick Wins PBA Women's World Championship, Sullins Takes Senior Title." Article at www.pba.com, October 25, 2009.
  13. ^ "ESPN The Magazine – Rick Reilly: How about a little recognition for bowling champ Kelly Kulick?". Sports.espn.go.com. 2010-02-26. Retrieved 2015-04-16.
  14. ^ Wiseman, Lucas. "Kulick takes USBC Queens title." Article at www.bowl.com on April 28, 2010. [2]
  15. ^ Wiseman, Lucas. "Kulick takes another major title, wins U.S. Women's Open." Article at www.bowl.com on May 12, 2010. [3]
  16. ^ Schneider, Jerry. "Pedersen, Eagle and Nicholson Inducted into PBA Hall of Fame in Las Vegas." Article at www.pba.com on January 23, 2011. [4]
  17. ^ "Leanne Hulsenberg triumphs in the 2011 Bowling's U.S. Women's Open." Article at www.bowlingdigital.com on July 2, 2011. [5]
  18. ^ "Kulick named June Bowler of the Month." Article at www.bowl.com on July 6, 2012. [6]
  19. ^ Vint, Bill (January 25, 2015). "Haugen Koivuniemi, Kulick Win WBT Finals Titles; Experimental "Frame Play" Scoring System Unveiled". PBA.com. Retrieved January 26, 2015.
  20. ^ "BOWLING INDUSTRY SERVICE AWARDS - Dick Weber Award". BPAA.com. Retrieved April 28, 2021.
  21. ^ "Kulick wins PWBA Fountain Valley Open for first PWBA title since tour's relaunch". PWBA.com. June 20, 2017. Retrieved June 21, 2017.
  22. ^ "Shannon O'Keefe wins 2017 Smithfield PWBA Tour Championship". pwba.com. 2017-09-06. Retrieved 2017-09-07.
  23. ^ "Stefanie Johnson Wins 2018 QubicaAMF PWBA Players Championship". pwba.com. August 25, 2018. Retrieved September 21, 2018.
  24. ^ "Maria Jose Rodríguez Wins 2018 PWBA Tour Championship". pwba.com. September 19, 2018. Retrieved September 20, 2018.
  25. ^ "KELLY KULICK WINS 2021 PWBA ALBANY OPEN". pwba.com. June 5, 2021. Retrieved June 6, 2021.
  26. ^ Stone, Rob. Transcript of ESPN's Women's World Championship broadcast, October 25, 2009.
  27. ^ U.S. Bowler, October 2011 issue
  28. ^ Vint, Bill. "For Kelly Kulick, ESPN the Magazine 'Exposure' Is Good for Bowling." Article at www.pba.com on October 6, 2011. [7]