updated 07/09/1979 AT 01:00 AM EDT
•originally published 07/09/1979 AT 01:00 AM EDT
Julie Bentz Fitzpatrick, 24, is the No. 1 woman college pool player in the U.S. This spring the unassuming 5'5½" blonde won the Big Ten pocket billiards championship at Purdue University and became the first two-time winner of Pabst's Intercollegiate Billiards Championship. For the once shy Julie, the cue has become a magic wand. Among other things, it introduced her to her husband, Jim, 30, now a conductor on the Chicago and North Western Railroad. Six years ago he invited her to play in a couples tournament. "We finished second on our first date," coos the bride of five months. Julie, the eldest of four and daughter of a Verona, Wis. sales manager and a Red Cross nurse, even found her career through billiards. After dropping out of the University of Wisconsin in 1973, she caromed off a series of jobs, ranging from short order cook and bookkeeper to a brief hitch in the Air Force. But in 1975, while coaching youngsters in the game, she discovered her real talent for teaching and re-enrolled at Wisconsin, where she graduated in June with a B.S. in elementary education. For Julie, pool has only two drawbacks. Winnings are minuscule (top money for a woman is $2,400), and there aren't enough female competitors. "It's a shame," she says. "Once they try it, women like it more than bowling. And they don't have to carry a heavy ball around or wear ugly shoes."