Inducted as a Player in 2012
by Jay Capell
If you were fortunate enough to play handball in the Bay Area during the 70's and 80's, (It wasn't that long ago) it was a hot bed of Nationally ranked competitive players. One of those extraordinary players was a young, two handed, offensive minded, physical specimen from Sacramento. Kevin Soulies was a top ranked Northern California singles player, who participated on the Pro Tour and was ranked in the top 10 Nationally. During this time period, he won every singles tournament at least once, including the prestigious Nor Cal Singles, Western Regionals, Modesto Open, Black Jack Open, Olympic Club Invitational, and many others. His mantra was strength, two handed power, conditioning, handball IQ, and a desire to win, that was unmatched.
His father, David, started him at the young age of 5, sneaking him onto the Sacramento Elks courts, long before he could officially become a member. While growing up and traveling to tournaments with his dad, he watched the best players and would return to the Elks courts and duplicate their shots and strategy. His training techniques during his heydays were legendary. Riding his bike at sunrise, playing handball before lunch, running in the early afternoon, followed by a handball match in the evening. This also was a 7 day a week routine! This conditioning would pay huge dividends in those difficult 3 game 21 point matches. Kevin would break his opponents will by his mastery of the game and his unrelenting pressure.
Jimmy Jacobs, Nati Alvarado SR, Fred Lewis, and Paul Haber all competed against Kevin. Jacobs, a 6 time National Singles Champion was in Sacramento with one of the great champion fighters he managed, Wilfred Benitez. Jack Austin, another Sacramento handball legend, called Jacobs and asked him if he wanted a handball match. Jacobs agreed to show up at the Mid Town Athletic Club. Austin called Kevin and told him he had an afternoon match for him. When Kevin showed up, the club was overflowing with people and he was told who his opponent was. Unfazed, Kevin prevailed 21-20 and 21-17, in a match Kevin said was the greatest he ever played. Paul Haber, 5 time National Singles Champion, was just released from a 6 month lock-down and was driving through Sacramento looking for his first game since his incarceration. Again, Kevin was called, and prevailed in two straight. Although Haber claimed "rust," the Sacramento spectators knew better.
Kevin hasn't participated actively as of late, but I can personally attest to his ability, competitiveness, and fair play. He was one of California's finest! When told of his induction, he said that he was shocked and surprised. It was the greatest thing that had happened to him in handball. Shocked and surprised, not me Kevin.
Congratulations Kevin, Hall of Famer!