Professional Women Bowlers Part 3: An Exclusive Interview with The Great Lynda Barnes
In part three of this series, we talked to one of the best bowlers in professional bowling, Lynda Barnes. Lynda has one of the most unique family dynamics in all of bowling. Come find out what that is, and what makes her such a phenomenal, well-liked and well-respected professional bowler.
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Lynda Barnes has perhaps one of the most recognizable names and faces in all of professional bowling. The reason is two-fold. First, she is without a doubt one of the very best bowlers in the world including the men. And second, she is married to arguably the best professional bowler in the world today, Chris Barnes.
In being married to Chris, she has one of the most challenging family dynamics in the world of professional bowling, or in any sport for that matter. Not only do they both rely on professional bowling as their living, they have little twin boys at home to take care of. This truly makes her accomplishments even more astounding because she cannot dedicate her entire life to her profession, because her children and her husband come first. However, some how, some way she still manages to be one of the best in the business. She is quite an inspiration to anyone, never mind those in similar situations, as she is well respected and admired for keeping her priorities in order.
Lynda’s resume of accomplishments is beyond amazing. It ranges from intercollegiate awards to amateur championships, to dozens of international titles to two USBC Women’s Queens Titles. She also holds the distinction of being the only female bowler to ever beat a male pro in the finals of a televised tournament. She accomplished this in April of 2008, when she defeated Sean Rash 258 to 237 to win the USBC Sponsored Clash of the Champions.
Lynda is a fierce of competitor, who thrives on winning and striving to be the best in her sport. She displays a fiery determination and enthusiasm that is fun to watch and down right contagious. She has an undeniable love and passion for the game that all true sports fans and athletes can relate to.
She is without a doubt one of the most admired, respected and popular bowlers on the tour. She has all of the wonderful qualities that make her downright likable, enjoyable to watch and fun to be around. She is warm, genuine, down to earth, and fan friendly. Besides all of that, and perhaps most importantly, she has found a way, to take care of both her family and bowling career with great success.
All photos have been approved by Lynda Barnes
Home: Double Oak, TX
Career Highlights and Championships
- 1995 U.S. Amateur Champion
- 1998 USBC Queens Champion
- 2005 U.S. Amateur Champion
- 2007 U.S. Amateur Champion
- 2007 US Open Semi Finalist
- 2008 USBC Queens Champion
- 2008 USBC Clash of the Champions Winner (Defeated Sean Rash)
- 2009 Qualified for PBA Women’s Series
- 2009 U.S. Open Television Finalist
About Last Season
You did not qualify for last year’s events. How difficult was it for you to sit out? Did you attend any of the events?
It wasn’t incredibly hard to sit out because I was home with my family. One of our twin boys was diagnosed with Diabetes last year so we had plenty to deal with. I was just excited that the women had something to compete in. I did not go to any events.
Did it bother you that you only had one shot to qualify for the series via the U.S. Open?
No, it didn’t bother me. I felt that it was the same opportunity for everyone and you knew what you were signing up for. I did like that this year you had qualifying rounds for two more spots in each event. That made it possible to earn another way into the tournaments.
Do you think the last year’s series met expectations as far as fan attendance and viewers go?
I’m not sure how many people were expected to attend the live events, but I was personally disappointed by the lack of attendance. I know there were many reasons for this, (weather, economy, etc), but I held hope that everyone would watch the shows and help increase our numbers there.
I was told the women’s series did pretty well in the television ratings on ESPN. What do you think about that?
That does not surprise me. I think that many players can relate to the women’s games physically and mentally. The series has the best of the best and it is just fun to watch that level of athlete compete.
What would you have changed about the series if you could?
I would like to have bowled and won one…. just more tournaments, more opportunities and more money. You asked!
What did you learn from last year regarding where the sport of bowling is and where it is headed, especially for the women?
I think last year shows the women that there are people out there that are willing to fight for a ladies series/tour. The issue is getting the women to truly commit to supporting this fight and get them to enter the tournaments. They can’t have tournaments if they only get thirty entries. Those numbers do not give anyone a good enough reason to support a women’s series/tour.
About this season
What did you think about having the first five women’s PBA events all in Detroit?
I didn’t understand the idea until I walked into Thunder Bowl Lanes. What a great place to host these events. I was honored to bowl in a center with so much bowling history behind it. Did it have some issues? Absolutely, but you don’t know until you try. The PBA has to do something different to make the tour better and stronger. It would be far worse if they just kept doing the same thing and kept watching our numbers and sponsorships decrease.
Do you think fans across the country (other than in the Detroit area), who like to see the women bowl in person, were be disappointed because they did not have that opportunity for the first five series events?
I’m not sure of what the numbers were/are in other areas. I can tell you from the past (2000 season) we didn’t have many spectators come out. I am sure there are some that are disappointed. These are the people that we need to get to fight for the women’s tour. We need numbers to create an outside interest. The bowling community needs to get together and help our sport.
What do you think about allowing two more women to qualify for each event, increasing the number of women allowed to compete to twenty?
The more women the better. It gives the women who may have had a rough week at the US Open an opportunity to still compete. I felt like this was an opportunity for more women to come out and support what the PBA and USBC are trying to achieve. I am not sure we lived up to their expectations. The number of participants in the qualifying rounds was not very high. Again, I completely understand with the economy and everything going on, but if we want a tour we have to support what they are doing.
About the sport of bowling
There is lots of advertising in bowling journals, bowling magazines and bowling web sites for the pro bowling events, but very little in mainstream sports media. Do you think this should change? If so, how would you go about changing that?
We need interesting stories and people. We need to learn how to promote not only ourselves, but our sport in a positive light. We need people to get out and create a buzz. I hope it will change but, again, I think the bowlers themselves have to take on some responsibility and treat our great game like a sport. There are so many different levels to our game and we need to respect the best of the best. Until we start within our own community it certainly isn’t going to happen outside of it.
Why do you think it is so difficult for bowling to break into mainstream sports?
I don’t think “mainstream” understands how difficult our game is. Like golf, we do have our own hidden bunkers and trees to contend with. It is very difficult to get people out there to understand how great these players are just by telling them on the ESPN telecast. I think we need more education to the general public, and our league bowlers.
If you were asked to make appearances at bowling centers around the country to promote the sport bowling and the women’s series, would you?
Absolutely!!!! As long as it didn’t interfere with my kiddos
How far away would you say the women are to getting their own tour back and getting all finals matches on television? Is this a goal right now?
I’m sure it is a goal for everyone involved, but I would imagine that the low number of entries in our tournaments didn’t help our cause.
Why should fans watch the women pro bowlers?
Because they are the best of the best and they do it for the love of the game.
None of the ladies out there are doing it for the money. There are some that do okay, but they aren’t building their retirement fund by bowling seven weeks a year. Besides that, the accuracy and knowledge that these women players have is absolutely amazing. They work hard at all aspects of the sport.
Who in your mind is the best women’s bowler on tour?
Carolyn Dorin-Ballard, no question. She has an amazing intensity and desire to win. She knows her game and equipment almost better than anyone I know (only Chris would be in that same category for me). She reads lanes and makes adjustments incredibly fast and is just amazing to watch. (No, she didn’t pay me to say all that)
If you could have one dream match for a women’s championship, whom would it be against?
I don’t really have an answer for this one. I just really love living the dream and bowling for a title. Sounds corny, but the rush you get when bowling for a title is unbelievable in itself.
If you could choose one partner for a women’s doubles tournament, who would it be?
Kim Terrell-Kearney. She is just a great friend and an amazing competitor. We have a blast and still work hard at getting it done. If I couldn’t have her it would be anyone that I have bowled with on Team USA. Those girls are all about getting it done.
More about Lynda
Now that you are back in the women’s series, how difficult is it to be a full time mom and a pro bowler, especially with your husband being on tour? How do you manage it?
We do it with lots of support from our family and friends. Chris’ mom and stepdad (Bill and Joy Willey) have made it possible for me to have it all. I feel very fortunate to have them around to help us. I always feel a little torn when I bowl. I love to bowl, but the kids come first in my world (next to Chris of course) and I hate to be away from them. I only bowled two of the first five women’s series events because school started and Troy got his omni pod for his Diabetes. There was no way I was going to miss either of those two happenings.
As far as Chris being on tour it actually makes it easier for us. With both of us being out in Detroit we were able to bring the kiddos and the entire family. It made the down time far more enjoyable. It’s always nice to know you are loved whether you win or lose.
You have a unique situation in bowling, having a husband on tour who is arguably the best bowler in the world. That must make for some interesting situations and conversations?
I won’t say it’s always easy, but how lucky am I that I get to learn from the best? Whenever he talks about bowling I pay attention. He is just so good at what he does and I always learn something. It is great to be with someone who understands what you are going through, good or bad. I think we balance each other out really well and hopefully we give our children something to be proud of.
How competitive are you with him?
We really don’t have the kind of time to worry about being competitive with each other. We both hate to lose, no matter what we are doing, but we try to take the team approach more often than not.
What are your proudest moments in bowling?
Winning the USBC Queens tournament twice. I even enjoyed finishing second in tournaments, because I was genuinely happy for the person who won.
How many 300 games have you bowled in competition?
I couldn’t tell you. I think six.
You are the only women’s professional bowler to ever beat a man on television for a championship. How did that feel? What went through your mind?
My main thought was please don’t fall down. It was an amazing night. The crowd was so supportive and so into every shot. I felt like I was just having a blast. I really just wanted to put on a good show and try to keep it close. Sean is an amazing bowler and a great friend. I enjoyed the competitiveness and the respect he showed me. I will always be thankful to the delegates in the arena that night-I feel like they willed the pins to fall for me-sorry Sean.
Would you like to bowl your husband on television in a one on one match someday?
I wouldn’t mind bowling with him. We had an opportunity this last year in the Clash of the Champions tournament. We talked about it a lot, and okay, threw down about it quite a lot. Any bowler that good I would rather bowl with than against.
If you had one message to give to those that do not watch the women or who do not follow bowling at all, what would it be?
Go out and bowl seventy-five games in a week with a fifteen pound ball, average 220 and then tell me its not a sport. Seriously, it’s one of the best sports in the world. Its physically, mentally challenging and a blast!
To learn more about Lynda Barnes, you can find her on Facebook.
For Part one of this series on Professional Women Bowlers, which includes an exclusive interview with Diandra Asbaty, click here.
For Part two of this series, which includes and exclusive interview with Jodi Woessner, click here.