Hank Marcus

WOR Hall of Fame 2018



The World Outdoor Racquetball Hall of Fame (WORHOF) Committee is honored to make a special announcement; our third 2018 Hall of Fame inductee is Hank Marcus who lives in Lake Oswego, Oregon. 

Marcus is a legendary outdoor racquetball contributor who founded World Outdoor Racquetball (WOR), our sport’s governing body, with the support of Scott Winters and Ektelon.  WOR has grown since its inception in California to include 17 states which have outdoor courts.  Internationally, WOR now features events and junior programs in countries including Mexico, Venezuela, England and Spain. Marcus worked with the organizers to establish three major national competitions in the USA to highlight the outdoor season. The revival of the excitement and participation in the WOR Championships in Huntington Beach, California was just the beginning. In 2004, WOR rapidly expanded to include an epic event on Hollywood Beach, Florida billed as the very first One Wall National Championships. That inaugural visit to the Historic Courts on Garfield St. on Hollywood Beach was the foundation of the ever-popular Beach Bash run by fellow 2018 WORHOF inductee Vic Leibofsky, which has become a must attend event for outdoor and indoor players. 

During those early years, continuity and exposure for the outdoor game were the priorities highlighted by the creation of a highly visible outdoor ball (red Fireball), new serving rules to increase rallies, and webcasts of the WOR Championships.  In 2009, Marcus partnered with a long time indoor friend Mike Coulter and 3 Wallball. This set the stage for the first ever combined “mega event” featuring racquetball and handball together playing side by side. 3 Wallball did the unthinkable, building courts from the ground up on the Stratosphere Hotel parking lot and bringing outdoors to the Strip in Las Vegas highlighted by ESPN 3 telecasts in conjunction with World Players of Handball. The event is now the largest in outdoor bringing each season to a grand conclusion.  One wall or three, it didn’t matter to Marcus as long as people flocked to these population destination events and had the time of their lives. 

During his tenure, Marcus also “lead the charge” founding Military Racquetball Foundation (MRF) with now retired Naval Officer Steven Harper. Marcus still proudly serves on the board today having earned his “stars and stripes”.  With the MRF helping military players around the world through the development of Racquetball Rehabilitation Clinics, the organization continues to assist veterans and injured service members.  Over the years, Marcus also helped create the World Firefighter Racquetball Association, National Police Racquetball Association and, in another collaboration with Coulter, the Classic Pro Racquetball Tour (CPRT). All these organization have became part of the outdoor scene including a veteran’s wheelchair division as part of the 3 Wallball event. Marcus also pioneered racquetball’s commitment to support to the Fibromyalgia Research. Marcus’ career was really about creating, inventing, exploring, communicating and helping outdoor racquetball become the fastest growing segment in racquetball. Hank Marcus succeeded beyond everyone’s wildest dreams and is the reason he was unanimously chosen to be inducted into the Hall of Fame.

Marcus wasn’t just an outstanding outdoor contributor. He had earlier shined in the indoor arena leading the International Pro Racquetball Tour (IRT) for many years. During that time, Marcus was able to secure a $100,000 in prize money sponsored by automotive’s Volkswagen Credit. These VCI events were some of the first racquetball events to be broadcast on ESPN.  Marcus modernized the pro tour developing its own ball (the Pro Penn) and introducing its first website featuring player stats, tournament stats and event results. Marcus represented the IRT when Doug Ganim took the IRT Memphis event and turned it into the first US Open Racquetball Championships. During this period, IRT also supported the Women's Tour and Marcus along with Women’s Commissioner Molly O'Brien added exposure, events and a new dress code to the women's game.  

Marcus’ legendary outdoor career culminated with a defining moment in late 2017 when WOR decided to join with USA Racquetball (USAR) to bring the sport under one umbrella to take outdoor racquetball to the next level. WOR and USAR now work closely together by cross promoting the sport, reducing insurance liability for all participants and directors and to ensure that racquetball’s glorious past continues to shine brightly in the future.

WOR will also be nominating Marcus for a coveted spot into the USAR Hall of Fame as an “outdoor contributor.” WOR has successfully nominated outdoor racquetball’s greatest player Brian Hawkes and Ektelon founder and famed inventor Franklin “Bud” Held to the sport’s most prestigious nomination; a place in the walls of the USAR Hall of Fame. Marcus’ contributions are so unique that WOR is making this special nomination.

What makes Marcus’ nomination especially unique for the Hall of Fame committee is that he has done his incredible work behind the scenes without ever taking credit for his significant achievements. Marcus is one of our sports greatest contributors from his visionary leadership to his communication skills and from his ability to rapidly grow the sport throughout the world and thus fitting the name World Outdoor Racquetball.

The people in outdoors are really why the sport is so special to me. Over the years, I have seen the way they have welcomed new players at parks across the country like they were welcoming them into their homes. What makes outdoor so special is not the game of racquetball itself, but the people and the atmosphere they create and it how they share it with other players, spectators, & families. For that, more than anything, I am honored to be inducted into the outdoor Hall of Fame. It is a place that I could have never have ended up without the hard work of all those who have given their time, energy, care, & love for WOR over the years.” (Hank Marcus on what racquetball and his nomination meant to him).

Hank Marcus being inducted into the WORHOF is an honor for all of Hank’s tireless contributions to WOR. Hank founded the organization, created the original structure, made all of the connections and agreements with other organizations to grow and support-USAR, IRT, LPRT, MRF etc. Hank enlisted the best of the outdoor enthusiasts and volunteers to build the organization and coordinated and helped run all of the major and minor events from behind the scenes. Hank is a pioneer for outdoor racquetball who will always be remembered for championing the player experience. WORHOF now shines a little brighter with his inclusion in this special group.” (Greg Lewerenz).

Brett Elkins, chairman and co-founder of the WORHOF stated, “Hank Marcus, will finally take his place next to the greatest contributors in our sports such as national championship California founders Barry Wallace and Bob Wetzel, outdoor tournament legends Vic Leibofsky and Scott Hirsch, and Ektelon founder and famed inventor, Franklin “Bud” Held. Hank created an organization where his leadership skills were revered, where the players loved playing the sport and most of all where everyone loved Hank Marcus. His enthusiasm is the reason I decided to work on starting WORHOF. Thank you for being a special person and friend.”

Marcus will be inducted into WORHOF along with Vic Leibofsky and Greg Solis.  Marcus has worked closely with both for many years. We thank chair Brett Elkins for nominating Hank Marcus and also Vic Leibofsky and Martha McDonald for their editing skills.

Marcus’ induction is part of a WOR campaign over the next three to five years to help celebrate the founders and long-time directors of the three national outdoor championships and to induct the early stars, from the 1960’s-1980’s. Public nominations take precedent over the committee’s own nominations and we look forward to receiving any submissions to Brett@trafficeducation.net. Nominations are accepted at any time for the class of 2019, typically in the order received. Please be sure to include the dates, titles (or top 4 major finishes), the name of tournaments and other important documents using the enclosed resume as an example. We look forward to your submissions and simply locate the tab under the “Hall of Fame Criteria” on the WOR home page.

Please take a moment to celebrate Marcus’ accomplishments by reviewing his encyclopedic resume and biography below.  The induction ceremony will take place "outdoor style" as we stop play at the World Outdoor Championships which will take place in Huntington Beach, CA on Saturday, July 14, 2018.

The WORHOF committee is composed of the WOR National Director Greg Lewerenz, WORHOF chairman Brett Elkins and past inductees who all have votes. Past inductees include Brian Hawkes, Martha and Greg McDonald, Bob Wetzel and Barry Wallace, Charlie Brumfield, Dr. Bud, Robert "Iceman" Sostre, Freddy Ramirez, Marty Hogan, Craig "Clubber" Lane, Franklin "Bud" Held, Lynn Adams Clay, Dan Southern and 2018 co-honoree Vic Leibofsky, Greg Solis and Hank Marcus.  Marcus was selected unanimously without his knowledge under “special circumstances”.


Hank Marcus – 2018 Inductee for WORHOF (Biography/Resume)

Nominated by Brett Elkins, Chairman, Outdoor Racquetball Hall of Fame
In 2010, I approached Hank Marcus with an idea to create an outdoor Hall of Fame to honor outdoor racquetball’s past sports legends. Hank was an inspiration in our unique set up as was Greg Lewerenz. I patiently waited for this moment to nominate him because I knew he wanted the early founders and greatest stars to be inducted long before him. As he starts his next chapter while still working with WOR as a consultant, it is a special honor to nominate Hank for his unwavering contributions to the game of outdoor racquetball.” (Brett Elkins, chairman/co-founder Outdoor Racquetball Hall of Fame).
 
Biography
This year marks a defining moment in the history of the WOR, World Outdoor Racquetball Hall of Fame (WORHOF)—as a seminal contributor, Hank Marcus, the individual who founded World Outdoor Racquetball (WOR), is nominated for the outdoor class of 2018. Hank Marcus is the reason why outdoor racquetball exploded in popularity at a level not seen since the early days of our sport. In 2004, Hank created the governing national body called WOR that would lead to outdoor racquetball becoming the fastest area of growth for the sport.

His leadership and vision led to the expansion of the outdoor calendar from the one national event played annually each summer in Southern California since the early seventies to the addition of the famous Las Vegas 3 Wallball World Championships each fall and the Beach Bash One Wall National Championships held in Florida in the winter. Outdoor racquetball under his tutelage grew to 17 states and 5 countries. The phenomenal growth of the outdoor game is a direct result of the visionary leadership Marcus  has shown in championing a cohesive, player-first philosophy in his approach to the game.

Hank was a talented player in his own right in the 1970’s as a junior surrounded by the likes of Marty Hogan and the crafty Charlie Brumfeld. Marcus would ultimately make his mark as one of the sport’s legendary CEOs and an operational mastermind. Marcus is not only a true visionary but he is an intelligent, caring, detail-oriented and inclusive leader who motivates his staff to pushing its boundaries.  If you have ever worked with Marcus or are active in outdoor racquetball, you know that you have arrived when you receive one of his famous texts saying, “I just wanted to say hi and that I can’t wait to spend time with you at the tournament this week.” It is his charisma and caring nature that makes him so special. Marcus is the “godfather” of World Outdoor Racquetball; its guru, its founder and its go-to person. Most of all, he is someone beloved by the sport.

For many years, outdoor racquetball had been drifting slowly away from the cohesive vision that founding fathers Barry Wallace and Bob Wetzel had created when they ran the very first outdoor Orange County National Championships in 1974. By 2004, new leadership was needed, and outdoor racquetball would create a governing body to cement its fragmented nature nationwide. Every major sport needs a national governing body to create standard rules and rankings for it to achieve new heights. Marcus was the person who led the charge. He worked tirelessly to ultimately unite indoor and outdoor racquetball keeping WOR as its own entity but under the umbrella of the USAR in 2017. Just as he came in, Hank went out on top. Combining WOR with the USAR was his final, Picasso-like stroke of genius along with his visionary partner Jason Thoerner, Executive Director of the USAR. The two close friends were able to unify the sport through their joint vision.

Marcus’ early vision was to make WOR a national organization. That vision became a reality after Hank and some early contributors including Vic Leibofsky, Scott Winters and George Barrera decided to get together and to create an organization that would forever change how outdoor racquetball was run. There would be an organization, rules, sanctioned tournaments, rankings and events. Marcus created a national organization propelling outdoor racquetball to heights it had never seen. 

First, he rekindled the famous WOR Huntington Beach Championships. Then, he helped Vic Leibofsky establish the WOR National One Wall Beach Bash Masterpiece, a second National Championship. Finally, with the founding director Coulter, Marcus continued his dream and saw a trifecta fulfilled on the Las Vegas Strip creating the sensation of the 3 Wallball World Championships with ESPN 3 televising racquetball, handball and paddleball. Racquetball had indeed reached its “Stratospheric” heights.

Marcus began his steady racquetball ascent with a brilliant career in the indoor game. He quickly became the head of Oregon State Racquetball. Next, he served as the men’s pro tour commissioner securing several major sponsorships and television rights deals along the way. Then, came the creation of the famed US Open Racquetball Championships, and Marcus helped ensure its success. Finally, he found a place that was his true calling, as he created WOR and nurtured it into the country’s largest outdoor organization by combining many fragmented units into one.

Along the way, Marcus took a few detours and helped found the Legends Tour with Marty Hogan, the Military Racquetball Federation, the World Firefighter Racquetball Association and the National Police Racquetball Association. He even somehow juggled some major roles as the head of Ektelon play-testing and its Collegiate Racquetball program before becoming the marketing director for Head Sports. Hank Marcus is a legend who has held virtually every racquetball position: a junior player, a pro player, a famed tournament director for decades, WOR Founder, Classic Pro Racquetball Tour Co-Founder, Military Racquetball Foundation and WORHOF co-founder.  

For Marcus’ unwavering contributions to outdoor racquetball, he has been unanimously selected for induction into outdoor racquetball's highest honor; the Outdoor Racquetball Hall of Fame. The induction ceremony will take place "outdoor style" as we stop play at the 2017 WOR National Championships taking place on Saturday July 14, 2018 at approximately 1pm in Huntington Beach.


Hanks Marcus Racquetball Resume; “A Legendary Racquetball Contributor”
(A special thanks to Boss Consulting, Rick Betts, John Scott and the IRT tour for providing the IRT content and to WORHOF’s Martha McDonald and Vic Leibofsky for their work on the format and submission).
  • Born in 1959 in Portland, Oregon.
  • Marcus becomes an early pro player and gets to the round of 16 or 32 in many pro events (1970-1980’s).
  • Marcus decides to try his hand at administration and soon becomes the Oregon State Racquetball President earning a reputation as a leader and go to player (Pre-1989).
  • Marcus is hired as Commissioner of Men’s Pro Racquetball in part due to the recommendation from Hall of Fame legend Marty Hogan. (1989)
  • The IRT, led by Marcus, signs VW Credit (VCI) to sponsor a 3 tournament series with $100,000 and TV. Trans Coastal sponsors the 4-event “Grand Slam” of Racquetball. (October 1991-August 1992).
  • Penn becomes the IRT official tour ball and the IRT works with Fibromyalgia Research. (October 1992).
  • Under Marcus, Racquetball returns to TV on ESPN for first time since Catalina Pro Tour. (July 1993).
  • The IRT Satellite Tour is introduced by Marcus, to bring touring pros to smaller cities. (August 1994).
  • The IRT and Marcus announce plans to put the tour and launch its website, www.irt-tour.com. Tour rules, schedules and player profiles etc. are added. (May 1995).
  • The USPRA web site (formerly http://metro.turnpike.net/C/cyberkid/uspra.html) is relaunched with Glenn Carlson and goes live with information on the Men’s and Women's pro tours. (September 1995).
  • Marcus orchestrates a deal as the IRT joins forces with Women’s Pro Tour, creating WIRT.  (January 1996).
  • Marcus is an integral part of the plans for the premier event in racquetball, the US Open Racquetball Championships, and in the process joins the AARA and IRT to create a “Grand Slam” event for racquetball. Doug Ganim is selected as tournament director. Promus Hotel signs as the title sponsor. The first US Open “opens” to great fanfare in November, 1996 with Sudsy Monchik beating Andy Roberts in the pro finals. (May-Nov 1996).
  • Randy Stafford, founder of the Court Company and USAR Hall of famer creates and donates a revolutionary Portable Court to be used at the US OPEN.  (November 1996).
  • The IRT players ask for representation and create an Executive Board (August 1998). In 2001, the IRT creates a 501-c non-profit with Dave Negrete becoming the new chairman. (1998-2001).
  • Marcus creates WOR World Outdoor Racquetball and becomes its Executive Director. He creates a series of nationwide state organizations, tournaments, rankings and compiles a listing of outdoor courts.  Players flock to outdoor racquetball as it becomes the fastest growing section in racquetball. (2004).
  • In 2004, Vic Leibofsky with an assist from Marcus helps lead and direct the famous outdoor one wall Beach Bash Nationals in Florida bringing outdoor championships from the West to the East Coast. (2004).
  • Marcus continues as a longtime director of one Oregon’s oldest tournaments called the Pro Kennex Tournament of Champions at the Multnomah Athletic Club. Legends of the event include pro stars Marty Hogan, Mike Yellen, Cliff Swain, Sudsy Monchik, Jason Mannino, Rocky Carson, Kane Waselenchuck. (Approximately 2004 to 2017).
  • The Classic Pro Racquetball Tour is launched by Marcus, Mike Coulter and Steve Lerner. The tour showcases a generation of 80s and 90s retired pro and prize money to support them; Ruben Gonzalez, Bret Harnett, Cliff Swain, Woody Clouse, Gerry Price, and others. (2007).
  • Working with Ektelon, Marcus became the Director of the Military Racquetball Foundation, Events Director, Playtest Manager, Director of its Collegiate Program and its Collegiate Elite Athletes Program. (2008- 2015). 
  • The Military Racquetball Foundation (MRF) is started and named Marcus as one its board of director continuing his ongoing support of MRF Racquetball and leadership to this date. (2009-2018).
  • The 3 Wallball World Championships is founded by Mike Coulter with an assist from Marcus. This becomes one the greatest showcase event in Outdoor Racquetball. The event takes place on the Stratosphere Hotel parking lot and is viewable from the Las Vegas Blvd strip and on ESPN.  (2009-present) 
  • Marcus and Peter Berger work on adding Firefighters and EMS emergency personal to the Military Racquetball Federation (MRF). The deal signed formally at the US Open. (2010).
  • Brett Elkins creates the WOR Outdoor Hall of Fame along with Greg Lewerenz and Marcus to honor 40 years of outdoor legendary racquetball. Brian Hawkes is the sport’s unanimous first inductee. (2012).
  • WOR expands to Mexico with the creation of WOR Mexico and the formation of a major pro racquetball event on the sand in Baja California. Then in 2013, takes outdoor racquetball into Latin American. (2013).
  • Marcus is tasked with helping to create a military camouflage ball. And he also creates a famous, two colored Ektelon multicolor “spinning” ball that is officially adopted by LPRT “adding color” (2015).
  • Head announces the hiring of Marcus as head of Penn National Promotional Staff. (2017).

QUOTABLES:

“In 2001, Marcus signed on as Executive Director. Some remember him from when he owned the IRT (1993-2001) so he obviously knows something about tours.” (Racquetball Magazine)

“Marcus is the MRF [Military Racquetball Foundation], Events and Playtest Director for Ektelon.” (Ektelon)

“In the winter of 2008, Mr. Berger traveled to the U.S. Open Racquetball Championships in Memphis, TN where he sat down with executives from Ektelon including Hank Marcus, who was the creator of the Military Racquetball Federation (MRF). Marcus and Berger quickly realized that there was a potential for an association that would benefit the Firefighter and EMS personnel…” (Ektelon Press Release 2010)

On the Las Vegas Tournament, Hank Marcus once commented, “It is the most unique event in court sports.”

“Hank Marcus has been a relentless support of outdoor racquetball for as long as I have known him! Under Hank’s leadership, WOR membership, participation and growth in new markets has been nothing short of phenomenal.” (Vic Leibofsky, 2018 WORHOF fellow inductee)

“Marcus extensive experience includes being the former commissioner of the IRT, founding World Outdoor Racquetball, co-founding the National Police Racquetball Association, and serving as the tournament director  for the Tournament of Champions IRT event each spring in Portland Oregon.” (Doug Ganim and Head/Penn Sports)

"Hank Marcus being inducted into the WORHOF is an honor for all of Hank's tireless contributions to WOR. Hank founded the organization, created the original structure, made all of the connections and agreements with other organizations and manufacturers to grow and support - USAR, IRT, LPRT, MRF, etc.  Hank enlisted the best of outdoor enthusiasts and volunteers to build the organization; he coordinated and helped run all of the major and minor events from behind the scenes.  Hank is a pioneer for outdoors and will be remembered for championing the player experience.  WORHOF shines a little brighter with Hank’s inclusion." (Greg Lewerenz, WOR National Director)