Every sport has its standout performers who not only excel at a high level, but also blaze a non-traditional trail to greatness that is remembered for the ages. Liz Johnson is one of those trailblazers.
As a freshman at Morehead State University, Liz was named Rookie of the Year and Bowler of the Year. Despite this great start to her collegiate career, she changed course and left Morehead to pursue her sport at a higher level. It was a decision that proved to be successful as she became the “back-to-back” U.S. Amateur Champion in 1993 and 1994, and earned a spot on Team USA to represent the United States in international competition.
Later in 1994, she won her first gold medal at the World Tenpin Team Cup in Malaysia. Her success that year prompted her to shift into a higher gear and she joined the Professional Women’s Bowling Association.
On the professional lanes she started strongly on the tour, winning the 1996 U.S. Open and capturing Rookie of the Year honors. In just six years on the PWBA tour, she won 11 pro titles. However, when the PWBA suspended its operation, Liz blazed a trail again, joining the Professional Bowlers Association, a.k.a. the men’s tour.
As a member of the PBA, Liz began to establish a series of firsts, including the first woman to qualify for a standard PBA tour event, the first woman to make the PBA television finals, the first woman to win a PBA regional title, and the first-ever American woman to win a European bowling tour tournament.
In her career Liz Johnson has won seven regional titles and 14 national titles, and she has more than 60 300-games to her credit. She was twice recognized for her class on and off the lanes with the PWBA Robby Sportsmanship Award, and Johnson was named “Female Bowler of the Decade” (2000–2009) in the winter, 2010 issue of U.S. Bowler.
A resident of Cheektowaga, N.Y., Liz received the “Excellence in Sports” Award from the National Polish-American Sports Hall of Fame (2014-Troy, Michigan) and was inducted into the United State Bowling Congress Hall of Fame in April of 2015.