Utah Racquetball Hall of Fame
Luzell Wilde - 1st Inductee to Utah Hall of Fame in 1999
Luzell Wilde has accomplished more in racquetball than most players ever will. He has earned first place in over 45 national championships and was inducted into the USRA Hall of Fame in 1989 and the Masters International in 1996. All of that in a sport he didn’t even begin playing until he was almost 50!
Born in Carey, Idaho, on October 25, 1917, Luzell didn’t participate in sports much. There were too many other priorities during his younger years. After moving to Salt Lake City, Luzell started working for New York Life Insurance Company in 1942. A few months later he served the military in Europe for all of World War II. After returning to Utah in 1946, Luzell met Georgia and they married later that year. They had four children and "about a dozen" grandchildren.
In 1965, Luzell joined the newly-constructed Deseret Gym in Salt Lake City. First he tried handball, but after seeing someone play with a "paddle," he decided that sport wouldn’t hurt the hand so much. In 1971, the Deseret Gym hosted the National Championships. Getting trounced 21-0 in the 45+ age bracket (the oldest bracket at the time) didn’t stop Luzell from practicing and competing. His next national event was in 1977, but he didn’t win one until 1981.
Sponsored by Ektelon since 1978, Luzell won the 1983 U.S. national Singles Championships in the 65+ division. Since then he competed in more than 200 national matches and won 45 national championships. Luzell criss-crossed the country with his sweet wife, Georgia, driving and camping in a small motorhome that Luzell built. Luzell reported that his wife attended over 90 percent of his tournaments over the years (only missing when a grandchild was born).
Between 1993 and 1997, Luzell had several operations. In October of 1997, he had the biggest, a quintuple heart bypass with a valve repair. In spite of this, seven months later Luzell won the 1998 U.S. National Singles Championships in the 80+ division! All of this at an age when most of us would be happy to still be moving.
Luzell was always an active local racquetball member as well. He coached juniors for many years and served on various racquetball boards. Luzell passed away on December 15th, 2004. He is missed by the racquetball community and in a society that idolizes our sports champions, Luzell Wilde is a true racquetball hero.
Rick Strout - Inducted in 2000
Rick Strout has been one of the driving forces in Utah racquetball, and has made a lasting impression on many of the top players, as a coach and as a competitor. Perhaps no one has had a wider sphere of involvement in Utah racquetball than Rick. He has run some of the largest tournaments in the state of Utah and has been an ambassador for Utah racquetball throughout the nation.
As a player, Rick has won multiple state championships in Men’s Open, 30+, 35+, 40+, Open Doubles and Mixed Open Doubles. He won a regional event in the 35+ and was ranked as high as second in the nation in that category. The consummate competitor, Rick has played with a broken arm, two severe knee injuries, two split Achilles tendons and a concussion.
As a pro (at the Sports Mall, Metro Sports Mall and the Life Centre), he ran over 200 tournaments, clinics, programs, and leagues. He coached players of all levels for over 20 years. With Steve Coray, Rick directed "Team Utah," a racquetball skills and conditioning program. He directed the National Doubles in the early 90’s and assisted with the Junior Nationals in the mid-90’s.
Rick directed the development, production and marketing of the Fin racquet in the late 80’s. He has written articles on racquetball for the state and national publications and served on the URA board for 12 years, six as president.
Ruth McGovern- Inducted in 2000
Ruth McGovern won the first USRA National Women’s Amateur championship only five years after learning to play racquetball in 1970. She played on the National Racquet Club Pro Tour for about four years, maintaining an eighth place ranking much of that time. Ruth also won a number of California amateur championships during that period.
Living in California at the time and working as a racquetball pro, Ruth ran tournaments in the hotbed of the sport during its explosive growth period. In the first tournament she ever ran, she had 121 entrants . . . in the C division alone.
She then moved back to SLC in 1979 and ran programs and tournaments at clubs today’s young players have probably never heard of, like The Fountain of Youth, Towne and Country, and Sherwood Hills. In 1983, Ruth moved to the Redwood Center and has been promoting the sport there ever since. No other person has had as much impact on the junior’s racquetball program in Utah as Ruth McGovern.
Howard Ringwood - Inducted 2002
Jon Clift - Inducted 2003
Rico Dubach- Inducted 2006
Marianne Walsh-Rowley - Inducted 2013
Marianne has been an integral part of Utah racquetball for over 3 decades! She picked up the sport in college (like many do) at USU back in the day. She began playing tournaments and was hooked. She fell in love with the sport and the racquetball community and quickly climbed the ranks. She has many state Women’s Open titles to her name as well as men’s A titles. Her playing resume is impressive but doesn’t stack up to the countless hours of service and dedication she contributed to the Utah Racquetball community.
From as far back as I can remember Marianne was involved in some sort of programming for leagues or tournaments. She was an RB pro at Cottonwood Heights and the Sports Mall for many years. Her enthusiasm was contagious and got many people hooked on the sport we all love. She ran many successful events and helped to make racquetball a social event in the state.
Marianne was very helpful in the junior scene as her four kids were going through the program. She helped coach various kids and teams and made sure her kids enjoyed their junior experience! She even contributed on a national level by getting her own children to the USA Junior Nationals and the Junior Worlds tournaments to compete.
Over the years Marianne started putting in more time on the development side than she did her own game. As her daughter neared high school age Marianne took it upon herself to create the Utah High School Racquetball Program. She coached the Skyline racquetball team and set up the meets and ran the whole league! She even ran the end of season tournament for all the Utah area high schools. She took a team to the USA High School Nationals 4 years and brought some national hardware back to Utah! The league is still very successful to this day and provides a great racquetball experience for many high school age kids.
Marianne has always been extremely passionate about racquetball and to this day is always trying to introduce new kids to the sport. Just last week she enrolled a new child (not her own) in the junior program. She is also passionate about safety on the court and eye guards. It isn’t unusual to see her poking her head in a court to remind people they should be wearing their eye guards!!!
Marianne has spent many hours bettering the racquetball community in Utah and is well deserved of a Utah Hall of Fame award.
She is one of the most unassuming and humble people to step on our courts and doesn’t expect thanks for any of her contributions. Utah Racquetball wouldn’t be where it is today without her talents and dedication.
Lynn Corbridge - Inducted 2014
Lynn has been influential in the State of Utah as a player and a coach over the past 30 years, which is amazing considering he didn’t start playing until he was 39. After 15 years of handball, Dave Hoch convinced him to switch to racquetball and taught him the basics.
Lynn cherished the times he played with Luzell Wilde, who is also a member of the Utah Racquetball Hall of Fame and the National Racquetball Hall of Fame. Early on in Lynn’s racquetball career, Luzell taught Lynn the meaning of the saying, "Age and treachery always overcomes youth and power." He was also influenced by Bob McNabb.
He has played some of the best players in the world at various national masters tournaments all across the county. Lynn described his accomplishments as a player by saying:
"To share my accomplishments as simple as possible I would say, I have played some of the best in the game, for my age group. I have beaten some of the very best and they have beaten me. If you believe in rankings, my highest Master’s ranking for my age group has been 3rd in the nation."
We tried to get Lynn to share his titles with us but he doesn’t feel that the medals are his greatest accomplishments. Lynn is even more proud of his work as a coach of the game.
After a year of playing racquetball, Lynn suggested to Weber State University that racquetball should be taught as part of the activity curriculum. He was granted the task of developing the racquetball program and it has flourished ever since. The first semester he taught one racquetball class and six handball classes, the next four and four, and after that racquetball overtook handball and now only racquetball is taught.
During his 15 years as coach, he recruited and taught students to play, hosted large round robin tournaments, and had his teams compete in a local, regional, and national level. He has coached several regional champions in singles and doubles, with the highest ranking for total team, both men and women, of 5th in the nation. He took great pride in teaching his students to play hard, but with honor and integrity.
One of Lynn’s coaching philosophies is, "We are all athletes. Some are better than others," and today, Lynn, we recognize that you are better than the others!
Sylvia Sawyer and Roger Flick - Inducted 2017
For Sylvia Sawyer, racquetball entered her life as an outlet from home tasks and her 5 busy children. She loved the way it exercised not only her body, but her brain, she enjoyed meeting and mingling with other people, and of course, she loved the competition!
In 1981 at 42 years old Sylvia entered her very first tournament, in the C division, at Provo Rec Center. She won her division (and the miniature pie that came along with it) and was hooked on tournaments from that day forward. For the next several years Sylvia would continue to play in local Utah tournaments (steadily moving up in the divisions), as well as branch in to national tournaments, until she consistently began ranking in the top 10 nationally for the 45+ & 50+ age groups for the American Amateur Racquetball Association (AARA). Sylvia was sponsored by HEAD Products from 1989 until 2003.
In 1983 the team of "Roger and Sylvia," that would become a racquetball force, both on and off the court, would play their first match as doubles partners. Sylvia has remarked that she found Roger to be a great doubles partner, because he was the first man she had competed with who would actually let her hit balls that came to her. They have continued as doubles partners over the past 34 years and in that time won 24 gold, 16 silver, and 6 bronze medals. Their most notable win was at the National Doubles held in Salt Lake in 1990 when they ended up in a three-way tie for first place. In the end, it was determined that they had played one more tie-breaker game than one of the other teams. Hence, they were awarded the silver medal. During this same national tournament Sylvia and her women’s doubles partner, Kathy Mueller, took the gold medal in the women’s 50+ division.
While Sylvia’s influence on the court as a player is certainly impressive, her influence off of the court as an ambassador for racquetball in Utah has been integral. While a student at Brigham Young University (BYU) in 1987 Sylvia asked the director of the BYU racquetball club if she could join, despite her age. By the end of the next year she was director of the club and worked hard to get the club advanced to the level of an extramural sport. When this status was approved in 1988 she asked her doubles partner, Roger Flick, to join her in the effort to start a collegiate team. This unstoppable duo then led the BYU team to three 1st place finishes for overall team, five 1st place finishes for the women’s team, and a consistent presence of the team in the top ten for 10 years at the Intercollegiate National Championships. BYU is still known as a force to be reckoned with at this championship to this day. In addition to coaching at BYU, Sylvia also taught racquetball classes at BYU for 14 years, spreading the sport to countless individuals over the years. During her tenor with the BYU team, undoubtedly observing her keen ability with racquetball in the collegiate world, Sylvia was asked to join the board of the American Collegiate Racquetball Association (ACRA). Here she would be a Regional Director for the colleges in the Rocky Mountain Region, serve as director for all regional tournaments (where BYU usually took 1st place), and give presentations on important issues such as the effects of Title IX on women in athletic competition. Throughout this time, Sylvia also found time to further serve the sport of racquetball in Utah by serving on the Utah Racquetball Board (URA) for several years. While on the URA, Sylvia was the driving force behind referee certification. She conducted seminars on racquetball rules and strived to certify as many players as she could throughout the state. She required every BYU team member to become certified and personally became a Certified Referee of the highest level nationally.
Sylvia often tells people, "It took me years to go from a Beginner to an Open player and then just 5 minutes to go from Open back to a Beginner. Now here I am at age 77 – the equivalent of a C player – just so grateful for all the friends I have and all the kind people who still ask me to go on the court and play!" Sylvia, your efforts in racquetball may have taken you many years, but the results of your efforts have been felt for decades and will continue to be felt for years to come. Utah Racquetball thanks you for your work and your kind, teaching heart!
Roger Flick’s path towards racquetball began in 1958 where racquetball was played as paddleball (with a tennis ball and a wooden paddle, some with and some without holes). In 1959 he continued playing as the game evolved, now being played with "sawed-off" tennis racquets, in what Roger refers to as the "Dark Ages." Roger played racquetball recreationally through several years, as a faculty member at Brigham Young University, playing during his lunch hour nearly every day. At this time he also participated in several intramural tournaments at the college (winning 10 of them).
Roger says he finally jumped in to the ring of competitive racquetball play at sanctioned tournaments late in life at the age of 43. However late his participation began, it can still be said that Roger made his presence known in the racquetball arena. Roger began in the novice level divisions and eventually worked his way up to the Open level. He participated in hundreds of local Utah tournaments, as well as national doubles tournaments across America. With Skill and Age level accomplishments combined Roger earned 34 Gold, 27 Silver, and 13 Bronze in single player events. Roger also played in many doubles racquetball events, both men’s and mixed. He comments that the most notable of these were usually with his mixed doubles partner of 34 years, Sylvia Sawyer, whom he says is, "A master at doubles play." His number of wins with Sylvia includes 24 Gold, 16 Silver, and 6 Bronze.
Off of the court Roger’s influence in Utah racquetball is extensive. Roger began the racquetball program at the Orem Rec Center and has been in charge of over 45 leagues there, as well as 2 leagues at the Provo Rec Center, and multiple annual tournaments for the last 34 years. He has taught hundreds of racquetball classes through these rec centers, as well as through Brigham Young University (BYU), spreading the knowledge of the game to countless individuals. His efforts in bringing the game of racquetball to entry level players through these avenues has provided the sport of racquetball in Utah with its life-blood for over 3 decades.
Alongside all of these efforts, Roger further served the racquetball community of Utah as a member of the Utah Racquetball Board for several years (2 of these as president). During his service there, he created and published racquetball newsletters, planned the State’s tournament schedule, designed logos for tournaments, and shared drills and tutorials on the game of racquetball to the state’s amateur players. Perhaps one of Roger’s most time consuming efforts for racquetball was his development of a DOS based software program which tracked competitive players’ involvement in tournaments throughout their life, including: all tournaments played, who they played, where they played, scores and their final placement in the tournament. At the time, there wasn’t a computer robust enough to handle all the data throughout the life of a racquetball player. It became too cumbersome to handle on 5 ¼ inch disks and was used for a short time, but never fully implemented. The R2Sports program now mimics this program.
In 1988 Roger was invited by his doubles partner, Sylvia Sawyer, to join her in coaching the newly established BYU extramural racquetball team. Sylvia’s stellar teaching ability and devoted attention helped the BYU team "three-peat" as National Intercollegiate Champions, took their Women’s team to five 1st place championships, placed the team in the top 10 every year for the 10 years in which they coached, and established BYU as a strong force in the collegiate competition field.
While Roger supported each of these efforts in racquetball he was also married to his sweet wife Sue (of 54 years), had 5 children, 26 grandchildren, and 5 great-children. He completed a double major in Family history and Math Education, with a minor in Physics and Chemistry, as well as a Master’s degree in Library and Information Science. He has worked as an analytical chemist, laboratory physicist, and a Director of Genealogical Research at BYU. Roger Flick, you are an impressive individual and the sport of racquetball is so much better off for having you with us. Thank you for your dedication and service and welcome to the Utah Racquetball Hall of Fame!