Women's sports history was made over the weekend. In case you haven't heard, it happened in Las Vegas, when Kelly Kulick became the first woman to win a Professional Bowlers Association tour event.
That in itself is accomplishment enough, but what is even more impressive is that Kulick defeated one of the game's best, 2007-08 Player of the Year, Chris Barnes. She did it in one of the biggest events of the year: the Tournament of Champions, a PBA major. And she beat him by 70 pins it wasn't even close.
You could compare it to Billy Jean King's 1973 tennis victory over Bobby Riggs. It would be like a woman golfer winning the Masters or a woman driver winning the Daytona 500.
Joyce Jordan, an employee and league bowler at Holiday Bowl, watched the history-making match on television.
"I cried for her," Joyce said. "I was so happy and I couldn't believe her nerves of steel. [Kelly] said she couldn't feel her legs, well I wouldn't have been able to throw the ball."
Jordan says she still hears comments from local fans who miss the pro women, who used to come through Altoona for regional competition.
The PWBA tour folded in 2003 due to a lack of sponsorship support. A year later, the men's PBA tour opened its membership to women. Kulick, along with other bowlers like Liz Johnson and Kim Adler have earned exemptions on the tour, but before this weekend, a woman had never won a PBA event competing side by side with the men.
Women pros can compete against each other in the U.S. Open and a short series of PBA events, with limited prize money. Kulick's historic championship may be the shot in the arm that women's bowling needs.
Kulick bowled 48 games during the week leading up to the Tournament of Champions stepladder finals. She earned the number two seed, with an average score of 231.2.
Chris Barnes, whose wife, Lynda is also a professional bowler, was gracious before the final match, saying Kulick had earned the right to be there and gracious afterwards, congratulating, and even winking his support to her before the final frame.
Kulick had shut out Barnes heading into the 10th, so she could take her time and savor the moment. She whispered, "History is made" into her microphone before rolling her final ball, finishing with a convincing 265-195 victory.
The dream-come-true performance for Kelly Kulick should inspire other women bowlers nationally and locally.
"We have some really good women bowlers in the city," said Joyce, "and we encourage young girls to keep bowling as long as they can."
With the Tournament of Champions won, Kelly Kulick raised the trophy over her head, and pointed to a bright pink sign in the gallery: "Girl Power," it read.
Kellie Goodman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Her column appears on Tuesdays.