Dream Of Establishing Paintball
Club Comes True
By Marie L. Monyak
May 04, 2006
Ketchikan, Alaska - At 19 years of age, local resident Ty Rettke
had a dream to share something he was passionate about with other
teenagers and young adults in the Ketchikan area. He had no lofty
goals of finding a cure for cancer or establishing world peace,
it was something much simpler and easily attainable, or so he
thought. He wanted to share his love of paintballing and begin
Referee Tower of Ketchikan
Hot Shots Paintball League...
Plans to clean up the tower and use it as a spotting station
for the referees is underway.
Photo by Marie L. Monyak
Rettke began by utilizing the
Viewpoints and the free classified section of SitNews to advertise
for others to join him in his quest. There were a few responses
but whenever a group got together to compete they inevitably
ran into obstacles. While playing in the woods surrounding Ketchikan
the group was approached on two occasions by U.S. Forest Service
Rangers advising them they could not play on National Forest
property. On at least one occasion, State Troopers advised the
group they could not play on State property either. "Each
time they were all very nice, just told us to move on,"
Rettke said. Puzzling when one considers that the paint ball
ammo is non-toxic and water soluble and Ketchikan doesn't seem
to have a shortage of rain to wash it away.
With few choices left, Rettke felt that he might possibly find
someone with private property that would allow them to use their
land and he did just that. Naturally the land owner requested
that the group, struggling to form a club, obtain insurance.
Rettke first acquired a business license and then began shopping
for insurance. Unavailable in Ketchikan, Rettke found a company
in Juneau that offered insurance for paintballers at a cost far
too exorbitant for him or the fledgling group to afford.
Not to be deterred, Rettke was single-minded in his determination.
He did his research, consulting the Ketchikan Gateway Borough's
website. Upon reading the mission statement for the Parks and
Recreation Department, Rettke was encouraged once again. The
mission statement was full of proud and noble promises to "enrich
the lives of all of its citizens," and "to provide
opportunities that enable people of all ages through positive
use of leisure time." Many of Rettke's Viewpoint letters
to SitNews reflected his strong belief that by providing local
kids (teenagers and young adults) with more positive physical
activities then naturally there would be less destructive behavior
on the part of that age group. The Gateway Borough was the obvious
answer to Rettke's problem. Or so Rettke thought.
Rettke said, "The Borough office was real nice, I talked
to them and it seemed like they liked the idea at first but then
said they couldn't afford it." All Rettke needed the Borough
to do was cover the group under their Parks and Recreation insurance
since he had the land and was willing to do any of the work involved
in setting up the program.
It was beginning to look hopeless to Rettke and then one day
his phone rang. Local resident Bobbi McCreary had read Rettke's
Viewpoint letters in SitNews and contacted him. Together they
re-formed the non-profit Ketchikan Youth Initiative (KYI). With
a board of four teenagers (under 18), seven young adults and
other older adults, KYI's mission statement is; "To empower
the community by fostering and funding youth and young adult
initiatives designed to create a constructive social environment."
KYI asserts that all sponsored activities will include an alcohol
and drug prevention aspect as well as seeking out underprivileged
With Rettke serving as Board President, McCreary as Secretary
and Gregory Vickery as Treasurer, the newly re-formed KYI's first
goal was to turn the dream of a paintball club into a reality.
As a non-profit 501(c)3, KYI was able to form the Hot Shots Paintball
League and begin soliciting tax deductible donations for the
development of the paintball park. Like the Kentucky Derby, Rettke
and his friends were off and running!
Cape Fox Corporation granted a use permit for land on Revilla
Road to be used as a paintball park, Tyler Rental donated the
service of an excavator, Ketchikan Redi-Mix, George Lybrand and
SECON donated load after load of D-1, numerous trucking companies
hauled the D-1, Petro Marine donated fuel to keep the trucks
running, Dawson Construction donated an employee to work on the
field for one full week, leveling the ground, moving boulders
and spreading the D-1. Cedars Lodge donated a container for securing
supplies at the site, and the list goes on, of people and businesses
willing to help make one young man's dream come true for not
only himself but countless others.
Anyone passing by on their way to Harriet Hunt Lake on Saturday,
April 22nd could see the activity at the park. The D-1 was being
spread by Dan Zink in the D-4 dozer while Steve Shrum operating
the forklift donated by SRM Inc. was sinking over 25 steel poles
intended to hold the 450 foot long, 12 foot high paintball safety
netting that will protect passing motorists and observers. Secretary
of the Paintball League, Spencer Round, League members, Kevin
Brown, Jarad Oien, Dollee Enright and several others were assisting
or clearing brush and picking up trash; countless spent shell
casings, beer and soda cans, broken glass and the residue of
The piece de resistance, sticking out like a sore thumb, was
the burnt out, thoroughly rusted landing craft tower donated
by Alaska Ship and DryDock. The cliché, "One man's
junk is another man's treasure" aptly describes the tower
and the feeling of the league members. They could not have been
happier if it were a custom designed watchtower! Plans to clean
up the tower and use it as a spotting station for the referees
There are countless individuals and businesses that have donated
materials and time or money to assist these industrious kids
accomplish their goal but most interesting was to learn that
the kids were not expecting everything to be handed to them but
rather were spending their weekends doing much of the "grunt
work." One member, Spencer Round is even collecting toner
and ink jet cartridges which he recycles to make money for building
the new park. It became more and more obvious that all these
kids ever needed was a helping hand to get their project started.
Ty Rettke is now 21 years old, two years have gone by since he
began his effort to make his dream become a reality. In the beginning,
Rettke said there were approximately 30 people in the club but
as time passed and progress stalled many lost interest until
there were only nine members left. He also estimated there are
approximately 125 paintballers in Ketchikan and they may very
well show an interest in joining once the park is open.
As the park nears completion a grand opening is scheduled for
Sunday May 21st. The Hot Shots Paintball League three founding
sponsors, Cape Fox Corporation, Cellular One and Revilla Island
Prevention Coalition will be supporting the event as well as
Red Bull who will be providing their beverage and live music
to accompany the free barbeque. Play on the field will be free
of charge and will there be equipment available to borrow although
a beginners set up can be acquired for only $50 at any of the
four retailers in town that carry the supplies.
Rettke's perseverance, his dogged determination, his willingness
to obey the law and create something for the enjoyment of other
makes him a person to watch in the upcoming years. Someday he
just may be a member of the Ketchikan City Council.
If you are interested in joining the league or would like to
partner with them and provide much needed materials and donations,
you can do so by attending the weekly meeting held on Wednesdays
at 7:00 P.M. at SharJo's Restaurant or by contacting Ty Rettke
at 617-2939, Spencer Round at 617-0102 or Bobbi McCreary at 225-2250.
Marie L. Monyak is a freelance writer living in Ketchikan, Alaska.
A freelance writer is an uncommitted independent writer
from whom a publisher, such as SitNews, can order articles for
For information about Monyak's freelance writing services and
costs contact her at mlmx1[at]hotmail.com
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