PARMA HEIGHTS, Ohio – The 2021 Professional Women’s Bowling Association Tour season has been a new experience in many ways for three-time champion Josie Barnes of Hermitage, Tennessee.
The second swing of the 2021 season has brought her back to competition with a new bowling ball company, and, more importantly, with a new biggest fan in her daughter, Lisa Ruth.
As Barnes looks to manage the challenging lane conditions of the PWBA Tour and spend time between blocks talking to her daughter through FaceTime this week, she’ll be returning to Yorktown Lanes as the defending champion at the PWBA Greater Cleveland Open.
The Greater Cleveland Open will begin Thursday with the official practice session. Competition gets underway Friday with two six-game qualifying rounds, before the field is cut to the top 32 players.
Advancers will bowl another six-game block Saturday to determine the top 12 athletes, and a final six-game round will determine the four players for the stepladder finals, based on pinfall totals for 24 games.
The finals of the Greater Cleveland Open will take place Saturday at 6 p.m. Eastern, with the champion taking home $ 10,000. All qualifying rounds and the stepladder finals will be broadcast live on BowlTV.com.
Barnes captured the first title of the 2019 season at Yorktown Lanes in a thrilling finish against Singapore’s Cherie Tan, 223-213. While many recognized the intensity Barnes showed down the stretch during the stepladder finals, only a handful knew her and husband, Kyle, were expecting their first child.
“There will be some nostalgia heading back there,” Barnes said. “I had a lot going on in my life during that time that people didn’t know about, so to revisit that will be pretty cool.”
The 32-year-old right-hander has bowled the previous two stops on tour, and she’s trying to keep an open mind as she works her way back to the rigors of competing on tour.
“My life has drastically changed since the last time I was out on tour,” said Barnes, who finished 42nd at the PWBA Twin Cities Open and 25th at the PWBA Lincoln Open. “I don’t feel like I’ve competed as myself in almost three years, since I was pregnant from the beginning in 2019. Anyone who’s bowled pregnant can tell you how different it feels, and I haven’t competed in my body in a longtime. It doesn’t make my standards any different, but I’m trying to keep an open mind and give myself a break.”
She’s also been adjusting to a new arsenal after electing not to compete in any events prior to the Twin Cities Open.
Barnes, the associate head coach for the Vanderbilt women’s bowling program, knew her student-athletes were following strict protocols in order to compete during the season, and she wanted to follow suit.
“With changing ball companies, I’ve told my ball reps the last two weeks that I’ve really liked the way the new equipment has rolled for me, but it will be a learning curve,” Barnes said. “Our team at Vanderbilt had to follow some really strict rules to compete this season, and I felt like I needed to stick to those as well, so I didn’t compete at all until the Minnesota stop. I was able to see how well the new balls rolled on Lane 2 at our rec center, but it’s going to take some time for me to figure out the moves I need to make and what balls complement each other in my bag.”
While the 2021 season might present some time for transition for Barnes, she also knows she wins each week by getting to see Lisa Ruth continue to grow.
“I make sure I talk to her between blocks, and I am able to FaceTime with them to see her,” Barnes said. “Whether bowling is going well or not, it’s always going to be good getting to see and talk to her.”
The Greater Cleveland Open is the sixth event of the 2021 season, which features 20 total tournaments on the schedule.
To learn more about the PWBA, visit PWBA.com.