Valarie Jenkins was born in 1986 into an already Frisbee-crazed family. Growing up around the sport and traveling with her family across the country was nothing out of the ordinary. As her best friends went on family vacations to Disney World in the summer, Val’s family was gearing up for the Disc Golf World Championships.
Val grew up with her parents, Leroy and Sharon, and brother, Avery, in Hinckley, Ohio (a small township about 40 minutes south of Cleveland). During her teenage years, Valarie was more occupied with her best friends and living up her school years than Disc Golf. She would still attend many tournaments that her family played in, but would sit back, listen to music and read magazines . The sport at the time was something she wasn’t interested in, but Valarie did compete in other sports in school. She played basketball for 5 years, played tennis for 2 years, but then eventually narrowed it down to just track in high school. Coincidentally, Valarie was the top shot and discus thrower in her high school. In high school is also when Valarie really started playing disc golf. She began competing and traveling with her parents, while playing in the Amateur women’s division.
In 2001, she competed and won in her first Am World Championships in the under 16 division. In 2002, she decided she could compete against the top Am women in the world, so she and Leroy traveled down to Miami to compete for her second Am title. After winning the mixed doubles with partner, Steve Heckathorne, Valarie was geared up to compete against reigning champion, Nikki Ross. A mix-up in the schedules caused Valarie to miss her first round which knocked her out of the competition. She decided to play Amateur for another year to give the World title another shot. She continued to compete through high school, which caused a dilemma during track season. She would be gone for most of the meets because disc golf was becoming her passion.
In 2003, Valarie competed and won the Amateur division of Women’s Nationals. Meanwhile, during this week of being absent from her Junior year in high school, Valarie was voted and crowned Homecoming queen. Juggling school, disc golf, track, and friends was a task, but it is what Valarie had wanted. Little did she realize, balancing life’s priorities would be the pattern of her disc golf career.
2003 Am worlds in Kansas City rolls around again and the hype for the battle between Valarie and Nikki Ross was stirred up again. Again, Valarie won mixed doubles but with a new partner, David Waisblum. The week battled on, and unfortunately Valarie couldn’t keep pace and ending up taking second to Nikki Ross. Never-the-less this tournament was the turning point for Valarie’s disc golf career as she moved up to the Professional ranks the next week at the Pro World Championships in Flagstaff, Arizona.
In 2004, Valarie attended her senior year at Highland High School. She continued to become one of the best shot and disc throwers in Medina County. She won the Suburban League meet for shot put with a throw of 31 feet (the school record is 33 ft). Although she was a good shot put thrower, she really excelled in discus as it was more natural to her. She strived to and eventually broke the school record during the District track meet with a throw of 124’8”. This throw then qualified her for the Track State Championships. After these feats in track, she received several scholarship opportunities around Ohio, but she knew that’s not what she wanted. Disc golf was still her passion, not track.
2004 marked her first Professional year which lead her to winning the 2004 Rookie of the year award. During this year, Valarie traveled around the United States to several tournaments with Avery. After competing on tour and playing the World Championships, Valarie decided the tour was meant for her. In the next week, Valarie got her passport and joined Avery and Dave Feldberg on a trip to the Japan Open. This trip truly marked the beginning of Valarie’s touring lifestyle, and from this point on she was committed fully to this sport. She decided to wait a year on school, and live up the tour while she could.
In 2005, Val started this touring season by making her first trip out to California and traveling to Hawaii for 2 weeks with friend, Carrie “Burl” Berlogar. They played 2 tournaments while on Oahu and the Big Island. Even though it was only the two of them competing, Valarie took down her first Professional win at the Hawaii State Championships. The tour continued through the year, and when Fall rolled around her 5 best friends asked if she wanted to move in with them. With no hesitation she said yes, and eventually decided to take some classes at Kent State University. These were some of the best years of her life, but she could not stand missing out on the disc golf tour. While she sat in lecture halls, she could only think about traveling and disc golf. In regret of not being on tour, Val received great news during that winter from Burl. Her dad had sponsored her by buying an RV, and she wanted Val to go on tour with her. Val was immediately in! She had heard for years about Avery’s tour, but now was finally her chance to start her own touring adventures.
The summers of 2005 through 2007 were spent on the road with Burl in her RV, The Spirit. They picked up many Team Spirit members along the way to join them in their travels. In 2006, Val was just out of her year of college and as broke as a college student gets. She had set aside a little money to manage on tour, but reality set in and she wasn’t sure if she could travel to Japan again. She met Burl out in California that May and did the usual west coast tournament swing up to Oregon and continued up to Kamloops, BC to compete in the International Women’s Cup. This tournament was the start of Val’s Professional career as she competed head to head with the likes of Elaine King, Des Reading, Burl which lead to a multi-hole playoff with Juliana Korver. Winning this tournament allowed Valarie to travel over to Japan for her second time. Valarie ended up winning her first Japan Open in 2006 and again in 2008.
Her travels to Japan lead her to travel over to Europe with Team USA (Avery Jenkins, Nate Doss, Dave Feldberg, Ken Climo, and Burl) in 2006-2008 for the European Open, Stockholm Open, and Skelleftea Open. In total Val has been able to travel to 12 different countries in the past 5 years, and has plans of traveling to every continent.
FamilyKCWorldsValarie made it her 2007 New Year’s resolution to win her first World Championship title. She battled hard through the year with competitor Des Reading, and accomplished her goal. She continued her Championship reign in 2008, and in 2009. In 2009, Valarie share World Championship titles with her brother, Avery; making them first siblings to simultainiously win Worlds. She also broke the women’s World Distance record of 485’ at the Big D in the Desert distance competition, but will have to regain the record by throwing over 500’.
Although she has accomplished more in her years than many will in their lifetime, she has big plans in the future for the sport. After attempting to seek large corporate sponsors for years and failing, she decided she needed to do something herself. She began going to school online in 2008, and after 3 years of being a world-traveling student, Val earned her BA in Business Marketing through the University of Phoenix. With this education and her passion for Disc Golf, Valarie hopes to aid in bringing Disc Golf into the world’s limelight.