ARLINGTON, Texas - Valerie Bercier of Spring Lake, Michigan, planned to bowl just the first four events of the 2019 Professional Women's Bowling Association Tour season, but a strong start encouraged her to continue and she now has won the PWBA Rookie of the Year award.
The 28-year-old right-hander paced all rookies in points during the 2019 PWBA Tour season, which determines the PWBA Rookie of the Year. Her 21st-place finish at the QubicaAMF PWBA Players Championship in Raleigh, North Carolina, helped her secure the honor.
"To be mentioned alongside the players who have won this award and to be a part of history is pretty incredible," Bercier said. "Knowing my name will be announced next year, and in five years, for being the 2019 PWBA Rookie of the Year is an amazing feeling."
Bercier started her 2019 campaign with seventh-place finishes at the Nationwide PWBA Greater Cleveland Open and PWBA Lincoln Open, and she posted her best showing of the season at the PWBA Sonoma County Open, advancing to the stepladder finals and recording a fourth-place finish.
Her 2019 campaign did come to a close at the PWBA Players Championship, as she fell short of advancing to the season-ending PWBA Tour Championship.
"My expectations were to just bowl those events and see what happens," said Bercier, who made the televised finals at the 2017 U.S. Women's Open as a non-member, finishing in fourth place. "As soon as I decided to commit to the rest of the season, I set my sights on rookie of the year. I felt it was a pretty good season, but I'm sad I didn't give myself enough of a chance to make the top 16 because I struggled at the majors. I'm looking forward, though, and know the things I have to work on for next season."
Bercier made the decision to join the tour season after establishing her business, Berberry Health & Wellness, in 2017. Bercier, a registered dietitian and certified health coach, managed the challenging lane conditions and responsibilities of work from week to week throughout the season, and she hopes she can inspire others through her efforts in both.
"I started my business in April of 2017, and we moved to Michigan in November that year," Bercier said. "I felt last year wasn't the right time to come out on tour, because I wanted to get that off the ground and create a solid foundation. It was a lot to manage both, but I love it. I want to help people get healthy, so if I'm able to come out here and bowl and create inspiration for others to take their health seriously, that's my mission."
Bercier has represented Canada in international competition since 2013 and was part of the junior team from 2008-2010. She also was a collegiate standout for the University of Nebraska, helping the Cornhuskers win the 2009 National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Women's Bowling Championship.
Since the relaunch of the PWBA Tour in 2015, the honor of PWBA Rookie of the Year has been awarded to Stefanie Johnson of McKinney, Texas (2015); Singapore's New Hui Fen (2016); Poland's Daria Pajak (2017); and Jordan Richard of Tecumseh, Michigan (2018).