In 2010, Three Lakes resident, Chuck Radtke was introduced to pickleball by John Kobach, an Eagle River pickleball player. Chuck enjoyed the game so much that he became interested in bringing the game to Three Lakes and enlisted the help of John Kobach and Gene Nackers, another Eagle River pickleball player. Chuck approached the Three Lakes Park Commission about being able to play pickleball at Don Burnside Park. The Park Commission was interested, and over time, took the pickleball club under its wing. An employee of Pitlik & Wick taught Chuck and others how to paint pickleball lines on tennis courts and the following year a group of Three Lakes residents created eight pickleball courts on three of the tennis courts at Don Burnside Park.
With help from Don Kerns and Jerry Bock, nets were devised from old umbrella stands and volleyball nets. In later years, Gene Nackers helped the Three Lakes group design net frames for pickleball. This led to collaboration with Three Lakes Steel who fabricated the frames. After a few design improvements, the club now has 6 semi-permanent pickleball nets. The first nets were purchased using donations from players. Newer nets were purchased with money raised from pickleball tournaments. Don Kerns also made 12 wooden pickleball paddles early on in the club’s existence. Some of these paddles are still in use today.
The Three Lakes School District has been a supporter of pickleball as well. Chuck worked with the school district to allow the club to play indoors during the winter.
John Kobach was also instrumental in helping the Three Lakes group organize pickleball tournaments. Since 2014, the club has held eight round robin tournaments. The tournaments have grown each year and draw people from all over the country. As you can see, pickleball in Three Lakes would not exist without the support of the community. Besides the examples listed above, Kevin Kelley looked over the liability waiver for the tournament, the 8th grade class has provided concessions for the tournaments, Honey Rock Camp staff helped promote pickleball during 4th of July parades, Sue Frank types and revises necessary documents, and many Three Lakes businesses have been sponsors of the tournament as well as provided raffle prizes for fundraising.
In 2019, the club recognized that the original eight courts needed repairs to keep them safe for playing. A core group of players worked with the Town of Three Lakes and the Park Commission on a project to resurface the entire court area. Using proceeds from past tournaments, financial help from the Town of Three Lakes and the Three Lakes Community Foundation, and with donations from many pickleball players, the project was completed in 2021. Today there are six dedicated pickleball courts, two dedicated tennis courts and one combination tennis/pickleball court, giving us eight beautiful courts to enjoy the fastest growing sport in America!