A Short History of Women in Bowling

March is Women’s History Month. All month, we get the chance to look back at all the amazing things women have brought to all aspects of society. From science, to politics, to every field in between, women have made an outstanding difference. We want to take a look back at the history of women in sports, specifically, women in bowling. Buckle up for a quick history lesson.

Flashback to nearly 100 years ago, in late November 1916: The Women’s National Bowling Association (WNBA), formed in St. Louis, MO, was established. As the first widely recognized women’s association for the sport of ten-pin bowling, this group of Catherine Menne, Ellen Kelly, and L.W. Waldecker laid the groundwork for future women bowlers.

On a fall night in 1917, the WNBA (now renamed the WIBC – Women’s International Bowling Congress) met in St. Louis as 40 women from 11 cities attended the meeting.

After leaving the meeting, the purpose of the organization was set:

[quote]To provide, adopt and enforce uniform rules and regulations governing the play of American tenpins; to provide and enforce uniform qualifications for tournaments and their participants; to hold a national tournament, and to encourage good feeling and create interest in the bowling game.[/quote]

-Women’s National Bowling Association

Flash forward to the modern bowling era, and we see women making strides to push the sport of bowling to new heights. In 2005, the WIBC merged with the American Bowling Congress, the Young American Bowling Alliance (YABA) and USA Bowling to form the United States Bowling Congress (USBC). The USBC bolstered over 1.2 million members playing in 67,000 sanctioned leagues in 2005 – an impressive increase from the 40 at the first Women’s National Bowling Association.

Even more, the USBC Women’s Championships is the largest women’s sporting event in the world, attracting 14,782 five-woman teams (88,279 participants) – a women’s world record. Women in bowling have certainly come a long way!

The 2011 US Women’s Open Championship was a unique and iconic event. The Cowboys Stadium in Dallas, TX hosted the tournament while National Television outlets covered the bowling competition.

Leanne Rose and Kelly Kulick headline the women’s side of the sport today. Carolyn Dorin-Ballard and Liz Johnson serve as unofficial ambassadors of the game.

Women’s impact on the sport of bowling is far-reaching and continues to be evident today. Although we recognize the history of women this month specifically, every month can be a time to celebrate women’s impact on the sport of bowling for everyone. For a more detailed history of women in bowling, click here.

JB’s on 41 is excited to have you and your friends and family out for bowling this March. Take some time to honor the greats of bowling history the next time you’re taking your shot. Improve your personal bowling history record with the great people in your life at JB’s Bowling 2.0.