ARLINGTON, Texas - After completing graduate school in the spring of 2015, Brittni Hamilton of Nashville, Tennessee, was excited to compete on the re-launched Professional Women's Bowling Association Tour.
However, Hamilton was noticeably absent from the PWBA Tour this season until last week, when the five-time Team USA member made her 2016 debut at the PWBA Lexington Open.
Hamilton has had a busy schedule off the lanes this year, starting a full-time job in admissions at DeVry University. Along with other commitments, she was to fit in only a couple of Tour stops this season - last week's event and, perhaps the most important stop for her, this week's PWBA Rochester Open that will take place in her hometown.
"There's a couple things that prevented me from getting out as much as I would've liked this year," said Hamilton, who won the 2014 USBC Team USA Trials in Las Vegas. "I just started a full-time job in October, so getting the time off has been a little hard. My brother is getting married this year, so I need time for that along with Team USA camp. Being able to take off every week was a little difficult, so I picked a couple tournaments that fit into my schedule pretty well."
Hamilton's bowling career started in Rochester. The city and surrounding areas is where she honed the skills which helped her to be selected the 2008 Alberta E. Crowe Star of Tomorrow, a victory at the 2010 Junior Gold Championships and becoming a three-time National Tenpin Coaches Association first-team All-American at Vanderbilt.
As one might imagine, she is excited to be able to compete professionally in her hometown, which brings everything full circle for Hamilton.
"I'm just really excited to be able to go back home and compete professionally," Hamilton said. "I haven't really been able to bowl any big tournaments in Rochester minus some youth tournaments, so being able to have this type of stage in my hometown is pretty cool to say the least. I'm really excited to be able to have the time to go compete there, see my friends and family, and give them the opportunity to come watch me bowl professionally because a lot of them haven't been able to see me on this type of stage either. It's an all-around awesome experience for myself and the city of Rochester, too."
After receiving her undergraduate degree in Human and Organizational Development at Vanderbilt, Hamilton moved back to Rochester for a short period before heading to Fairleigh Dickinson University in Teaneck, New Jersey, to pursue her Master's degree in Sports Administration.
Hamilton returned to Nashville last October, and now will settle in the Music City for the foreseeable future after recently accepting a new position in the Vanderbilt Athletics Department as an academic counselor for student-athletes. She starts the new job after the PWBA Rochester Open.
"I love Vanderbilt," Hamilton said. "It's a big part of me as an alumni. To be able to have a position there, and be able to help student-athletes like I was helped when I was there, is what I'm really excited about. To help them be successful, not only on the court, the field or whatever their sport is, but as well as in the classroom. That's going to be an exciting new chapter for me to give back to the students like I was helped when I was there."
For a competitor like Hamilton, who finished third at the 2014 QubicaAMF World Cup, the absence of competition is what she has missed the most about not competing regularly on the PWBA Tour.
"I'm a competitive person," Hamilton said. "With being involved in bowling and bowling tournaments for as long as I can remember, just being out here and competing against the best in the world is something that I miss. I have a lot of friends out here, so I miss seeing them every week like I did last summer, too. But, the competition part is what I miss the most."
The city of Rochester and surrounding Buffalo area has a rich history of talented bowlers that includes 2015 PWBA Player of the Year and United States Bowling Congress Hall of Famer Liz Johnson of Cheektowaga, and 2016 Nationwide PWBA Sonoma County Open champion Shannon O'Keefe, who spent some time in Rochester in previous years, provided Hamilton some talented examples to look up to as a youth bowler.
Hamilton has shared the Team USA stage with Johnson and O'Keefe previously, and now will get the chance to perform on the same stage as those two champions in her hometown, as she attempts to carve out a PWBA career for herself.
"Liz Johnson is from the Buffalo area which is about an hour away from me," Hamilton said. "Shannon O'Keefe was living in Rochester when I was younger, so being able to look up to them was probably a big part of why I got into bowling. Now to be on Team USA with both of them at one point, and competing on the PWBA stage with them, is a dream come true in a way. I'm just really excited for the PWBA to be going back to my home area and back to where it all began. It's where it started and now the biggest stage is going to be there as well."
PWBA ROCHESTER OPEN
Thursday, July 7
3 p.m. - 4 p.m.: Media event
5 p.m. - 6:30 p.m.: Practice
7 p.m.: VIP event
Friday, July 8
8 a.m. - 9 a.m.: Practice
10:30 a.m. - 3 p.m.: Six games of qualifying (fresh)
6 p.m. - 10:30 p.m.: Six games of qualifying (no re-oil)
Saturday, July 9
8:30 a.m. - 11:30 a.m.: Cashers' round - six games (fresh)
1 p.m. - 4 p.m.: Round-robin match play - six games (no re-oil)
5 p.m. - 6 p.m.: Group stepladder finals (fresh)
7 p.m. - 9 p.m.: Pro-Am
Sunday, July 10
1 p.m. - 3 p.m.: Pro-Am