Roseville bowler is still on top of her game

Leanne Hulsenberg — wife, mother and Hall-of-Famer — wins the U.S. Women’s Open for her 27th career title
By: Bill Poindexter/Roseville Press Tribune Sports Editor
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Leanne Hulsenberg didn’t stop bowling when the Professional Women’s Bowling Association tour ended in 2003.

Hulsenberg continued to compete in several men’s regionals, and she bowled in Japan a handful of times for Ebonite, with which the Roseville resident has been affiliated for 20 years.

“Everybody has stopped bowling a little bit,” Hulsenberg said. “There are not many options for women right now. There’s just not a lot to bowl.”

But there still are two national tournaments a year, the USBC Queens Tournament and Bowling’s U.S. Women’s Open. So when Hulsenberg won the U.S. Women’s Open in June — and a $50,000 check for her first Open title and the 27th overall of her career — much had changed in the sport since she won her 26th nearly nine years ago.

For the TV stepladder finals, Hulsenberg and four others bowled on lanes assembled at midfield at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas. They stood on the five points of the famed Cowboy star at midfield. The Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders performed during breaks.

On a much more personal note, Hulsenberg had a fan club among the crowd of more than 6,000: husband Gary Hulsenberg and son Barrett, 2. They met in 2004, the year she moved to Roseville. The Hulsenbergs own and operate The Strike Shop at Fireside Lanes in Citrus Heights.

Leanne Barrette grew up in Fremont and moved to Oklahoma as a teenager before moving to Pleasanton in 1997. She won 26 pro titles on her way to induction in the United States Bowling Congress Hall of Fame and had finishes of fifth, fourth, third and second in U.S. Women’s Opens before she met Gary Hulsenberg.

“It was great on the personal level. I saved the big success for him,” she said. “It was 10 times more special because he was there and my son was there.”

Leanne Hulsenberg said she was “totally prepared” for this U.S. Women’s Open.
With Barrett now a toddler, she was able to be at Fireside Lanes more often. She bowls in the Steve Cook Classic League and practiced with several bowlers from Fireside’s noted junior program. Gary helped prepare her equipment.

“Everything really worked well this year,” she said. “We put in a bunch of time and effort.”

The Open marked her 100th appearance in TV finals and was her first since she won the Three Rivers Open on Sept. 19, 2002, in Pittsburgh.

The Bowling Proprietors Association of America, which is based near Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, put on the Open this year after the USBC did it the past few years. Country star Neal McCoy sung the national anthem and performed a concert after the tournament.

The bowlers toured the stadium and practiced before the TV finals.
Seeded second for the TV finals, Hulsenberg defeated Lynda Barnes 247-246 and defending champion Kelly Kulick 218-183 for the title.

“The BPAA and their CEO, Steve Johnson, wanted to bring the U.S. Open back as big as they could,” Hulsenberg said. “I’m pretty sure everybody was really happy with it. It was pretty cool actually. There was a lot of support with the people there. People were yelling. It was a pretty nice environment. It was a very grand event definitely.”

The 2012 U.S. Women’s Open will be held in Reno.