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A Vandalia native recently won the US Women’s Open in the Professional Women’s Bowling Association held last week.
Josie Barnes, now of Nashville, TN, and daughter of former Vandalia bowling alley owner Larry Earnest, also of the Nashville area, won the championship last week in California. It was her fourth PWBA title.
The 33-year-old right-hander was born in Greenville, and was two and a half years old when her family purchased the bowling center.
Speaking of her parents, “They were the worker bees. We were from a small town and was a small business. We spent so much time there, I guess I just naturally picked it up.”
Most children will credit their parents with any success, however Josie had another influence.
“My dad was my coach growing up, and Mom (Lisa) was the driving mental force, however I wouldn’t be where I am today without my sister Jessica. We were very competitive with each other, and I owe a lot of my success to her,” Josie said, adding that Jessica is actually a better bowler than she.
“Jessica was also a competitive bowler and has a world gold medal, something I never achieved. She was on Junior Team USA, and was only one of four girls chosen to represent the US in the World Youth Championships held in Bangkok,” she said.
Although much of her time was spent at the bowling alley, Josie says she didn’t like it. However when she was 12 years old, she participated in a state tournament against many girls years older than herself. She finished fourth out of 100 bowlers and thought, “I’m really good. Maybe I should do this.”
“My parents sat me down and said I could pay for college one of two ways – either do bowling and we take you to the events, or get a ‘big girl job.’ I decided I didn’t want a ‘big girl job.’ That’s when I started to put in the work – two to three hours every night,” Josie said.
She added that she did not think her childhood was much different than others – packing up every weekend to go to tournaments in Chicago and other venues.
After the state tournament, she was qualified for the big national tournament in Reno, NV and, according to her, did well for her age. She says she also gained a perspective on what national competitive bowling looks like.
At age 15, she qualified for the Junior Team USA, and was the youngest on the team.
“This was my first leap on being recognized and it helped with college,” she said.
Initially after graduating from college, the pro tour didn’t exist, she explained. The PWBA was formed in 1960 but ceased operations in 2003. The PWBA Tour was re-launched in 2015 by the United States Bowling Congress and Bowling Proprietors’ Association of America.
“I still wanted to be competitive, however, and started trying out for Team USA, which I made for the first time in 2012. That team competed every other year at the Pan America Games and other world tournaments,” she said. “You have to try out every year for the team and I did to cling on to that one chance at competitiveness. At that time there were still two major tourneys for women, sponsored by national governing body. In 2015, I decided that is what I wanted to do.”
How does she pay for her entry fees? With her regular job, of course, being the full time, associate head bowling coach at her alma mater, Vanderbilt.
“Members fees are $350 just to be a professional member. Entry fees are less for members, in standard tourney is $300, US Open was $400,” she said. She continued that sponsors usually provides the athletes with equipment. Other supply a stipend, but most do not.
“You have to truly believe in what you are doing,” she encouraged.
This was her best finish at major event, and she has three standard titles. The win earned her a $100,000 paycheck.
She lives with her husband Kyle, from Nashville area, and daughter Lisa Ruth.
“She is very intrigued with the sport and can watch me participated on livestreams,” Josie said.
“It’s kind of cool as we all picked up and relocated. Dad has moved to Nashville and my sister lives nearby,” she said.