ARLINGTON, Texas – Two-time Professional Women’s Bowling Association Tour champion Jordan Richard created a buzz in the bowling world earlier this month when she announced she was going to be changing the brand of bowling ball she’d be delivering strikes with moving forward.
Richard, from Tecumseh, Michigan, announced she was joining Roto Grip’s national tour staff on Sept. 8, giving her less than three weeks to prepare for her appearance in the Professional Bowlers Association League as a member of the Phoenix Fury.
Despite the quick turnaround to get to know her new equipment, the 2018 PWBA Rookie of the Year is confident she’ll be ready to help the Fury make a run at the Elias Cup in Centreville, Virginia, starting Sept. 26.
Richard will join fellow PWBA stars Shannon O’Keefe, Liz Johnson, Stefanie Johnson and Maria José Rodriguez at Bowlero Centreville for the 2020 event, which will feature 12 five-player teams made up of the top stars on both the PBA Tour and PWBA Tour.
A learning curve is common when switching brands of bowling balls, even for the top players. Understanding different ball motions, progression through an arsenal and how to match up with a particular coverstock or core all are part of the process.
The 24-year-old right-hander will rely on plenty of practice and a couple of local events prior to departing for Virginia, but one thing she does know is that she’s had plenty of success while using this brand in the past.
During her sophomore and junior years at Arkansas State, the Red Wolves were sponsored by Storm and Roto Grip. Richard was named a National Tenpin Coaches Association (NTCA) first-team All-American each of those seasons and was recognized as the NTCA Player of the Year for Division I her junior year.
“It’s definitely going to take some time getting used to the new equipment, and I’m going to be spending quite a few hours at the bowling alley over the next couple of weeks,” Richard said. “It has been a couple years since I’ve thrown Storm and Roto Grip equipment, but I had a lot of success at Arkansas State during that time. I’ll do my best to learn as much as I can in the next couple of weeks.”
Richard won’t have to go through the transition alone, however. Teammates Stefanie Johnson and Liz Johnson also represent Roto Grip and Storm, and they’ll be able to offer insight from their experiences to help Richard adapt.
“Both Stefanie and Liz will be huge assets in helping me,” Richard said. “Stefanie was one of the people I reached out to before making the switch, since she went through the same experience earlier this year, and she was one of the first people I told. I’m really glad we’ll have the qualifying round to work together and learn more, since we won’t be throwing a lot of shots during the Baker games.”
PBA League competition features the Baker format, which requires each of the teams’ players to bowl two frames to complete each game.
Although the logo on her jersey and bowling balls will be different in Virginia, there’s no mistaking what Richard’s high-power game brings to the experienced Fury lineup for team manager and United States Bowling Congress Hall of Famer Kim Kearney.
Richard has seen the strengths and versatility each of her teammates has to offer in just two seasons on the PWBA Tour and three years on Team USA, and she believes Kearney’s familiarity with the entire team also will be an asset for the Fury.
Kearney, who rejoined the Team USA coaching staff earlier this year, served as an assistant coach on Junior Team USA when Richard was part of the team in 2016. Kearney also took over the head coaching position of the women’s bowling team at North Carolina A&T during Richard’s time at Arkansas State.
“I really like how versatile we are as a group, and knowing Kim has worked with all of us at some point is really going to help us, both physically and mentally,” said Richard, who won a gold medal in trios for Team USA at the 2019 World Bowling Women’s Championships. “I believe a coach’s job isn’t just telling you what you’re doing right or wrong, it’s about always being there for your players. Being able to work with her while part of Junior Team USA and seeing her at collegiate events really helped build our relationship, and we’re lucky to have her to hopefully guide us to victory.”
The Phoenix Fury and Miami Waves are the latest additions to the PBA League in 2020. The teams are made up of athletes who competed on the PWBA Tour in 2019, finished in the top 35 on the season-long points list and were selected during a formal draft.
Qualifying at the PBA League begins Saturday, Sept. 26 at 10 a.m. Eastern and will be broadcast live on FloBowling. Competition will move to FS1 starting Sunday, Sept. 27 at noon Eastern, with the Anthony Division Quarterfinals getting head-to-head match play underway. The tournament will conclude Wednesday, Sept. 30 at 7 p.m. Eastern with the finals for the PBA Elias Cup.
The Phoenix Fury will compete in the Carter Division, while the Miami Waves will be in the Anthony Division.