Richard uses breakout season to win 2023 PWBA Player of the Year

Richard uses breakout season to win 2023 PWBA Player of the Year

ARLINGTON, Texas – Jordan Richard of Tipton, Michigan, has been a well-known and well-respected competitor on the PWBA Tour ever since her rookie season in 2018.

It’s easy to understand why as Richard made her presence felt almost immediately during her debut campaign, winning a title – the 2018 PWBA Greater Harrisburg Open – and walking away with 2018 PWBA Rookie of the Year honors.

Richard reached the winner’s circle again during her sophomore season – at the 2019 PWBA Lincoln Open – and put her name at or near the top of the standings at multiple PWBA Tour stops and international competitions with Team USA during the 2021 and 2022 seasons – the 2020 PWBA Tour season was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

As such, had you asked PWBA fans to name possible player of the year candidates prior to the start of the 2023 season, it’s likely that Richard’s name would have come up.

Nevertheless, it would have been hard for anyone, herself included, to predict just how dominant the 27-year-old right-hander would be during her fifth year on tour. 

Dominant is precisely what Richard was this season, however, as she led the tour in wins (3), stepladder finals appearances (6), average (219.69), cashes (11) and perfect games (3), which allowed her to emerge as the 2023 PWBA Player of the Year.

Latvia’s Diana Zavjalova – winner of the 2023 Waterloo Open – finished second while 2023 United States Bowling Congress Queens champion Lindsay Boomershine of Brigham City, Utah, was third.

The accomplishment allowed Richard to become just the fourth player in PWBA history to win both rookie of the year and player of the year honors, joining USBC Hall of Famers Anne Marie Duggan, Wendy Macpherson and Liz Johnson.

Days after securing this year’s player of the year award, it was hard for Richard to express how it felt to be joining such hallowed company.

“It hasn’t fully sunk in yet, and I don’t think it will for a while,” Richard said. “Player of the year is something that everybody dreams about and wants to win in their career, but some of the greatest players in our sport have never won it. 

“At the Tour Championship, they have a wall that lists the names of every player who has won player of the year. To think that my name will now be up there forever is surreal; it’s really an honor.”

It’s an honor that was certainly well-deserved as Richard established herself as the player to beat from the very first week of the 2023 season.

She opened the year with a second-place finish to Singapore’s Cherie Tan at the season-opening PWBA Stockton Open.

One week later, Richard reached the top of the podium by defeating 2022 U.S. Women’s Open champion Erin McCarthy of Elkhorn, Nebraska, 234-153, to win the GoBowling! Spokane Open.

After a disappointing tie for 49th place at the USBC Queens, the season’s first major, Richard bounced back by finishing tied for 14th at the Grand Rapids Classic and eighth at the BowlTV Classic.

Those finishes were just a precursor to Richard’s best stretch of the year, however, as she would win the Great Lakes Classic (241-171 over England’s Verity Crawley) on June 6 and the Bowlers Journal Cleveland Open (247-219 over Stefanie Johnson of McKinney, Texas) just four days later to collect her third title in the first seven events of the 2023 PWBA Tour season.

Richard followed that magical run with a ninth-place finish at the U.S. Women’s Open before the tour took a scheduled break from June 20-July 27.

The layoff did little to halt Richard’s momentum, however, as once action resumed, she recorded top-10 finishes at three of the last four events of the season, including stepladder finals appearances at the Waterloo Open, where she finished third, and the Tour Championship, where she took fourth.

Richard’s performance at the Waterloo Open included back-to-back perfect games, which came during Game 5 and Game 6 of qualifying.

That gave Richard three 300s for the season, which moved her ahead of Ashly Galante of Palm Harbor, Florida; Caitlyn Johnson of Beaumont, Texas; and Zavjalova, all of whom had two.

However, as impressive as Richard’s consecutive perfect games in Waterloo were, her first 300 of the season was actually the one that meant the most to her.

That one came during Game 6 of qualifying at the Cleveland Open, just three games after she carded a season-low score of 124.

“The 300 in Cleveland was really important because it got me back into the tournament, but it also helped me prove to myself that I can do anything,” Richard said. “To have such a bad game like that and then turn around a couple games later and shoot 300 meant a lot because it showed me what I can overcome; that was definitely one of the highlights of my season.”

While that highlight demonstrated Richard’s ability to battle through adversity, the majority of the 2023 season was simply a display of stellar bowling on her part.

So that begs the question: how was Richard able to be so strong so consistently this season?

While outstanding execution was certainly on one side of the equation, she pointed to factors outside the bowling center as contributing heavily to the other.

“Moving home grounded me a little bit more and had me focusing more on the things I was doing in my life instead of everybody else’s life, so that helped,” Richard said. “I was more level-headed this year. 

“It sounds silly, but I really just tried focusing more on the baby steps. I started to realize that I can’t win the tournament in one game, so I just looked at making the first cut and then making the second cut. Once I started doing that instead of trying to be at the top every time, I started accomplishing more because I wasn’t putting pressure on myself to be at the top constantly.”

But the top is precisely where Richard found herself more often than not throughout the season, and since that was the case, that’s exactly where fans and fellow competitors will expect her to be moving forward.

Richard would certainly like to live up to those expectations; however, she knows how difficult it is to win week in and week out on the PWBA Tour. As such, she will be careful not to put any undue pressure upon herself during the 2024 season and beyond.

“Now that I’ve won player of the year, that’s where I want to set the bar going forward, but I have to be realistic with myself,” Richard said. “I would like to win three titles every year and be at the top every week, but is that realistic? Probably not. There are so many great players on tour, and the same players don’t usually win all the time. That being said, this year proved to me that I’m capable of being at the top and can do just as much as anybody else can.”

That’s something Richard’s family has always known about her, and that’s part of the reason why they’ve supported her so enthusiastically throughout her bowling career.

That support is not something Richard takes for granted.

“I want to dedicate this year to my family,” Richard said. “Ever since my brother Matt passed away, we’ve been trying to fill that void in our lives, and nobody really knows what that’s like unless they’ve been through it. So, this season was for them and the hardships that we face every day. We’ve always been a close-knit family, and they’ve always been the ones who have pushed me. Even on their weakest days, they still stand by my side. I dedicate this to them.”

Categories: Tournaments, Players
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