PITTSBURG, Kan. — She’s been throwing strikes since the age of five, setting her up to become one of the best professional bowlers in the state of Kansas. Today, Pittsburg resident Julie Vickers travels across the country, working as an independent contractor in the transportation sector. While driving from coast-to-coast, Vickers also finds time to participate in both regional and national bowling competitions.

For Julie Vickers, a love for bowling came from her mom, who was a avid bowler when Vickers was young.

“She got me started when I was five — and you know how most young kids will take the ball and just throw it between their legs? Well, my mom says I started out at the age of five swinging the ball the correct way,” said Vickers.

Building on the bowling skills she picked up from her mom, Vickers was able to score the title of “Best Bowler in Kansas” for her age group — at the time, she was only nine years old.

“I’ve never really had any coaching, so everything I’ve learned has all been from what my mom taught me or what I’ve picked up on my own,” said Vickers.

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As she reached her teenage years, Vickers was throwing strikes on a professional level — earning enough trophies and plaques to fill an entire room. The ones she chooses to display, though, is still an impressive amount.

“I have one whole wall that’s just full of plaques. From all the competitions I’ve been involved in and won over the last few decades, I’ve had to be picky about which ones I want to display,” said Vickers.

In the world of bowling, summertime is competition time, and with summer right around the corner, Vickers is preparing for yet another season of bowling — which for her, started last week in Las Vegas, where Vickers bowled in the 2023 United States Bowling Congress (USBC) Women’s Championships. At one point in the championships, she had taken the lead in the singles category.

“We got done bowling and I had no idea that I took over first place in singles until this guy shows up right in front of me with a camera. Then, everybody that I was bowling with posted on Facebook that I was first in singles — so it was all over Facebook before I even got to share the news,” said Vickers.

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As a pro bowler, her current average is 220. It’s a score that positions her to play in any regional or national competition she wishes to enter. But it’s not always about reaching for a higher average. For Vickers, the bowling alley is where she gets to spend time with those she cares for the most — her friends, who all share a love of the sport.

“Besides the fact that I love to do it, it’s about the time I get to spend with my friends. That’s what we do together. My best friend and I, we bowl in tournaments all over the place together. It’s the only time when I get to be with some of my favorite people in the world,” said Vickers.