Little Leaguers in Carbondale — and the larger community — will soon have a new place to practice swinging for the fences.

The Pre-teen Park Association of Greater Carbondale is finishing a new training center building for the community, including more than 150 kids ages 4-15 who play ball from March to November.

Among the improvements to the 40-foot by 60-foot training center at Russell Park on 11th Avenue, Carbondale, is a turf floor obtained from Valley View High School after the school district refurbished their football field. They’ve also installed a retractable batting cage and plan to add a second soon. The building is heated and insulated so the community can use it during the winter and spring.

“We lose a lot of practice time due to weather during the spring,” said Pre-teen Park Association board member Tim Baron.

The building is still a work in progress. They still need to cover up the insulation and clean up the turf that was rolled out inside. Baron and other volunteers worked to install the ceiling of the building themselves.

The Pre-teen Park Association is looking for lifetime sponsors to fund the completion of this training center. They plan to offer the building to the community for off-season training and baseball and softball clinics.

“The building is pretty unique — one of the handful of them in the area that isn’t for profit,” said board member John Masco.

The Pre-teen Park Association of Greater Carbondale has been around since 1962 and consists entirely of volunteer community members, including five board members who raise funds for the improvement of the Carbondale Little League complex, as well as planning and carrying out all games and events.

“Everything here is volunteer,” Baron said. “No one gets paid to do anything, all the way down to the grass cutting.”

Baron, 45, first became involved with the Pre-Teen Park Association as a chief umpire on the Little League team in his youth when his father was a board member. He got back into it 12 years ago, when his first child got involved in Little League, and has served as a board member with Masco, 42, for eight years.

The new training center isn’t the only Pre-teen Park Association property getting some sprucing up. The group recently received a $5,000 Reinvest grant to repaint the entire Little League complex at Russell Park. They gave both sides of the dugouts, the equipment room and every other building on the complex a fresh coat of paint, so everything matches.

They also turned their attention to the complex’s large scoreboard, hailed as one of the largest Little League scoreboards in the area. They spent $3,000 to refurbish the electronic components on the inside of the board.

Aside from grants, the Pre-teen Park Association has a variety of methods to fund these endeavors: registration fees when Little League season starts in March, local advertising along the fence of the field, community corporate sponsors and, most notably, community fundraisers. The association regularly hosts raffles and bingo nights, as well as their annual Labor Day Big Ball tournament. The three-day softball tournament is always their biggest, and most exhausting, fundraiser of the year, volunteers said.

Once the training center is complete, their next big project is upgrading all of the field lighting to LEDs, as it is much more cost effective and better for the kids.

In the meantime, the Pre-teen Park Authority recently wrapped up registration for the 2023 Little League season. Games begin this spring and the authority is always looking for volunteers, Baron said.

To volunteer or for more information, visit or check out Preteen Park Association – Home of Carbondale LL on Facebook.