Juneau players hone their skills at women-only pinball nights

two women
Sisters Baileigh Krause (left) and Tawney Letterman (right) compete in a women’s pinball night at the Bearcade in Juneau on Nov. 14, 2023. (Photo by Yvonne Krumrey/KTOO)

Juneau’s pinball community has created a space where women can play without as much pressure — women’s-only nights.

Anyone who identifies as a woman or non-binary can play. Participants say it’s often more fun than the co-ed tournaments. 

Tawney Letterman, who also plays in the usual Tuesday night tournaments, says she enjoys playing with just the women sometimes.

“There’s a lot less peacocking,” she said, demonstrating a strut. “And the women are like, ‘Good ball babe!’”

Nov. 14 was the third women’s night at the Bearcade in downtown Juneau. Kristin Bailey was checking the scores. 

“It’s way more relaxed. It’s more of a funner, chill vibe,” she said. “That’s my favorite thing about it.”

The women aren’t competitive with each other. When one plays an especially good round, everyone shares her excitement. So far, three different women have won each women’s tournament, and they are all pretty happy with that.

a woman
Sara Snyder is the night’s winner in a women’s pinball tournament at the Bearcade in Juneau on Nov. 14, 2023. (Photo by Yvonne Krumrey/KTOO)

“We all just want people to play and have fun, at the end of the day. And like, congratulate you when you do a good job and say it’s okay when you don’t,” Letterman said. 

But they are more competitive when it comes to the upcoming state tournament in Sitka. It’ll be the first in Alaska. 

“We’re all, like, hella focused. We’re all already like, ‘None of us are gonna drink, no one’s getting stoned.’ We’ve already talked about strategies,” Letterman said. “Like, ‘should we get leather jackets?’”

The top 16 players in Alaska will compete in the state championship in January. Five of the qualifying players are women — all from Juneau.

KTOO is our partner public media station in Juneau. Alaska Public Media collaborates with partners statewide to cover Alaska news.

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