After 15 years of owning and operating the Bend Elks, owner/general manager Jim Richards sold the Elks to John and Tami Marick. The sale was finalized in early October. John is the CEO of Consumer Cellular based in Portland, Oregon.
John and Tami hired longtime Bend Elks coach Casey Powell to run their operation. The rookie general manager has acted both as a head coach and assistant in his tenure with the Elks. Casey is not only familiar with the Elks, he is a member of the community as he grew up in Bend and was teaching in Bend before accepting his new position.
The Maricks have a home in the Bend area and have been fans of the team since the club has been in the West Coast League. The Elks are founding members of the WCL and Richards was one of the founding fathers of the league.
John was recognized as one of the 75 Significant Business Alumni from the University of Portland as part of the School of Business’ 75th year anniversary and is the brother of former Corvallis Knights head trainer Joel Marick who worked six years with the Knights, two in the WCL (2000-2006).
Powell starred at Linfield College as a player and was the head baseball coach at Whitman College for seven seasons (2003-2009). He most recently was an assistant coach at Seattle University from 2010-2014.
The league asked John & Tami Marick and Casey Powell a few questions to find out more about the Elks’ new leadership team. Check out their responses below. We wish John & Tami, Casey and the Elks the very best.
WCL: How does it feel to be the owners of the Bend Elks, one of the founding members of the league and one of its most successful members?
John & Tami: We are very excited to be involved with the Bend Elks. We have been a part of the Elks large, loyal fan base for quite some time, taking in several games a year. It’s pretty special to now not only be a fan, but be able to help the organization become an even more important part of the Bend community.
WCL: What interested you most about Bend and the West Coast League?
John & Tami: Bend is a special place for us. It’s hard to beat watching a game there on a clear summer night. We think the Elks are an affordable, family-friendly entertainment option that is important to the community. Additionally, the opportunities the West Coast League provides young men to pursue their dreams of playing baseball and learn life skills is commendable. Helping both the Elks and WCL continue to reach more people is what led us to our involvement.
WCL: Did you play or follow baseball as a kid, and did you have a favorite player or team?
John & Tami: John grew up playing little league and Tami has many fond memories of watching her brothers play as well. At those times, we were more focused on our teams and the fun of playing with friends rather than a big league team or player. Of course, there were always the big names and teams to follow, especially in the fall when playoffs heat up. But none that was a huge favorite.
WCL: Are there any changes coming this season for the Elks that fans might enjoy hearing about?
John & Tami: Our focus is to build on the momentum of the first 15 years the Elks have been in Bend. We are excited about the team we will have on the field and the quality play they will bring to our fans. We will also be partnering with many local organizations to help fill the stands and create game day promotions to add to the fun. It will be a great experience everyone should come enjoy.
WCL: What are you most pressing challenges as the general manager with the Elks, and how different is your new position compared to coaching?
Casey: I feel pretty much what I am doing right now as the GM is a lot of what I did as a coach this time of year; recruiting, scheduling and planning. The big difference is sitting in on business and sponsorship meetings and preparing to hire concessions and other staff members. I know the biggest difference is when the 1st pitch of the game is thrown and I’m not in the dugout but in the stands, that will be my hardest adjustment.
WCL: How is the community receiving the Elks’ ownership change and what has you most enthused about this season?
Casey: Every meeting that Kelsie Marick (Elks’ director of marketing & sales) and I have been in on with former or future sponsorship participants has been great. They are appreciative of the Elks and what we do for the community, it shows what a great job Jim and Maryann Richards did here creating a quality product for families to come to.
WCL: Tell us a little about player recruiting, did you recruit the club and what players are you looking forward to watching wear Bend black and gold this summer?
Casey: As a former coach college coach in the Northwest and a former coach in this league, I really tried to focus on the Northwest. I tried to get a kid from all the major four year schools in the Northwest and then some of the other programs around the Northwest that have great programs and coaches I know. I also tried to get Northwest kids from programs out of the area; Santa Clara and Samford are both sending players with Northwest roots. I’m excited to have Billy King from Oregon State and Pat McGuff from Moorehead State both coming back. Billy will be a staple in the middle of the lineup again and Pat will be one of our starting pitchers. The fact that both have been here before, will bring some leadership to the team.
WCL: Rumor has it that the Elks are unveiling a new mascot in 2015. Is that the case, and can you share more? Is Homer retiring in Bend?
Casey: Jim retired Homer last season, we are working on a new Elk Mascot; Vinny (after Vince Genna Stadium). I can’t tell you exactly what Vinny looks like, Kelsie has been busy working with designers on an Elk.
To hear John and Casey interviewed by Jay Reese on Bend’s KNBD SportsTalk, click here.