Riley Fort Named Distinguished Young Woman Of Kentucky: Focuses Presentation On Ebonite International

Riley Fort walked through the hallways of Ebonite International in November, 2018. She paused in front of the ball wall, which displays current in-line product for the Brands of Ebonite International and listened as Randy Teitloff, vice-president of research and development, talked for a few moments about the history of bowling ball development.

With an eager smile, she soaked in all of the information being presented and shared how she believes so many people have no understanding of just how much science is involved in the development of a bowling ball.

Already named Distinguished Young Woman for Christian County (Kentucky), Fort was preparing for state level competition. For this next stage of the competition, she had to present on a topic unique to her city or county. Her visit served as a fact-finding excursion, but was also a sort of homecoming.

“As a Distinguished Young Women participant, I had to highlight something unique about my hometown,” Fort said. “My grandfather, Harvey Hickey, moved from Massachusetts so that Ebonite could begin its manufacturing in Hopkinsville. He worked at Ebonite for 35 years.”

“My uncle, Brian Hickey, also worked at Ebonite,” she said. “Having this family connection and knowing how important Ebonite is in the bowling industry made me choose to focus on Ebonite International.”

For her state competition video, Fort said she discussed how Ebonite is the world’s leading bowling ball manufacturer and produces more than half-a-million balls each year.

“Ebonite’s balls are special enough to be featured in movies,” she said. “And of course, they’re featured on Professional Bowling Association tour championships.”

“Ebonite International has been a significant presence in Hopkinsville for decades,” she added. “The company has provided hundreds of people with jobs and is an integral part of the community…it’s a huge part of how Hopkinsville is ‘on a roll’.”

In mid-January, 2019, Riley Fort found herself being escorted through downtown Hopkinsville, Kentucky by the local police and fire departments. Friends, family and community well-wishers lined the streets as she was welcomed home as the newly announced Distinguished Young Woman of Kentucky for 2019.

“It was amazing to be welcomed home,” she said. “I was so glad to share my excitement with those I love the most. The support I felt from them the whole week of program was so special.”

“I am happy to call Hopkinsville my home because of the unending love and encouragement the citizens pour into me for all my endeavors,” she said.

Fort is now preparing for national competition, which will be held in June in Mobile, Alabama.

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