Fred Carmen has had two sons play baseball at Laurel High School, which means he has watched plenty of games outdoors in the past few years.
But now the former Laurel Police officer is surrounded by baseball players on a regular basis at an indoor facility just off Cherry Lane. Carmen handles marketing and community outreach at PowerUp Sports and Training, a 24,000-square-foot indoor facility that opened in December and had its grand opening ceremony late last month.
"We are a multi-sport facility," Carmen says. "We can accommodate baseball and softball but also lacrosse, football and soccer. We can do all of those. The big difference with us is we have 20,000 feet of pro turf. We don't have hard (permanent) fences out there. We can pull curtains back and configure the space the way we want it."
PowerUp also offers a Magnificent Body class, which is taught by Laurel Health and Wellness Ambassador Carl Powell.
The facility is attracting high school or club teams from as far away as north of Baltimore. Several high school baseball teams closer to Laurel have been working out there this winter, including Eleanor Roosevelt, Bowie, Bishop McNamara and DeMatha Catholic in Prince George's County; Reservoir High in Howard County; and Blake and Blair in Montgomery County.
"We have run four or five teams at the same time, depending on what kind of drills they wanted to run," says Carmen, who also coaches a travel baseball team, the Maryland Warriors.
PowerUp is also home to the PG Baseball Academy, which is spearheaded by DeMatha head coach Sean O'Connor.
Softball teams who have been coming to the facility at 8610 Cherry Lane include travel teams Western Howard County Fever and Takoma Park Fire, and the University of Maryland program.
Laura Horstkamp, the head softball coach at St. Vincent Pallotti High last season, is a contractor with PowerUp and works with softball players at the facility several times a week. Horstkamp played softball at Franklin High in Baltimore County and is ready to start her first season as the head coach at Atholton High in Columbia.
"My forte is working one-on-one with athletes. That is what I do best," said Horstkamp, a former assistant coach at what is now Stevenson University. "It is a well-rounded facility. You can arrange the facility to be a bunch of different things."
Horstkamp was also an instructor at Extra Innings, another indoor facility that was housed at the same space on Cherry Lane. PowerUp has more space and is unique in tailoring practice space to the specific needs of the team or individual.
Another big different with PowerUp, compared to some indoor facilities, is that parents are not in a close proximity to their children during workouts.
"The parents go to an observation deck," says Horstkamp. "The kids get what they want and the parents get what they want. It is a win-win. I think that was a good move."
'Labor of love'
PowerUp is owned by Fulton residents Russ and Cindy Hall. Russ Hall has a business background while his wife, the former Cindy Truman, is a former gymnast and a graduate of St. Vincent Pallotti. Some of their children were home-schooled and one son, Joseph, is a freshman and plays baseball at DeMatha.
"It is a pretty fast-growing business," Carmen says. "We hope to start a program for homeschoolers since they need physical education programs."
Carmen and Russ Hall have coached travel baseball together and last year Hall operated a 2,000-square-foot workout facility at a small warehouse in Silver Spring. Hall wanted larger space close to both Washington and Baltimore so he "completely gutted" the former Extra Innings facility on Cherry Lane to establish PowerUp.
If a non-member baseball player wants to use the facility for one hour, for example, the cost is $55, according to Carmen.
"Our focus is more on sports performance," Carmen says. "A lot of people focus on some training but they also have arcades" to attract those who want to play video games.
Carmen says the Laurel site hopes to attract a wide range of youth. On Monday, the father of a 16-year-old lacrosse player stopped in to check out the facility since he moved to the area from San Diego and heard about PowerUp through ESPN 980.
"Timing is everything. We were familiar with the business that was there previously," said Russ Hall, a former walk-on baseball player at Virginia Tech. "We took out a six-year lease in November. We want to be involved in the community. This has been a labor of love."