In today's technologically dependent world it's no secret there are distractions that kids and young adults have to deal with. This is not to say that video games, surfing the internet, and using IPads or IPhones are all bad things. It's just that I believe these things have contributed to a noticeable decline in the interest and level of play in athletics over the past few seasons. Kids just simply do not spend all day at the basketball court or baseball field anymore and it shows, which brings me to my next point.

Sports performance centers have become all the more important to kids who want to take their athletic talents past high school and into college or the professional level. In the past a young athlete would have to drive to the Lehigh Valley to get professional training at a facility that offered such things as turf fields, batting cages, pitching tunnels, and speed training.

That is no longer the case, with the newly opened Pyramid Sports Performance Center a facility that has long been needed in the Carbon County area located in Lehighton. Pyramid will be run by directors Chris West and Steve Strauss with Strauss being Head of Sports Performance. The Pyramid mission statement is simple and it not only pertains to those who want to go from high school athletics to collegiate competition. The facility is open to all ages and people in all walks of life.

"We want this facility to become a hub of fitness and athletic training for the greater Carbon County area," said West. "We want to maximize the potential and athletic performance of each kid that walks through our door."

"It's simply about taking a person to the next level," said Strauss. "That could be in life, sports, or education. We just want to have a positive affect on the individuals that come and train here."

The center resides in the old Scotty's Fashions building on 230 Ochre Street in Lehighton and offers a number of services that could help athletes of all ages improve on their abilities.

The fitness and sports performance training center is basically the gym portion of the facility where athletes can train. The fitness center is also open to anybody who wants to join and workout and also contains a nutrition and snack bar area with a trained nutritionist on staff.

Adjacent to the fitness and sports performance center is the open turf field where training in soccer, field hockey, baseball, and speed performance will be held.

Downstairs is perhaps the gem of the Pyramid Sports Performance Center in their baseball and softball indoor batting cages. Along with their four cages, Pyramid also offers two pitching tunnels where pitchers can work on mechanics. The pitching tunnels also provide indoor mounds so athletes can simulate game-type situations. Finally, the Pyramid's video analysis system in the batting and pitching areas can analyze an athlete's mechanics so they know what they have to work on to get better.

Lastly, their multi-purpose room is used for all sorts of aerobic and instructional classes and in the near future for wrestling and golf.

With all this facility has to offer it's no doubt that if the area takes advantage Pyramid could be a watering hole for local athletes to not only train but compete against each other and raise the bar of athletics in Carbon and Schuylkill County.

"We want to get these kids once they come here to push each other," said Strauss. "The more they compete against each other then the better they will get. It's a lot different going against the best competition from other areas and it can also create friendships for these kids with other athletes from different schools."

"We're trying to bring something different to the area," said Head Strength and Conditioning Trainer Brian Fetterman. "We have plenty of good athletes right here at home and we want them to be the best around, and I definitely think we can help them with that."

Although Pyramid has only been open for a short time, a number of different local teams and organizations are already calling the facility their home for training.

Lehighton field hockey, Carbon United Soccer Club, Marian football, Palmerton and Towamensing Little League and youth softball, Lansford Little League, and the Panther Valley Black Diamonds Sr. Babe Ruth team are all members of the Pyramid family.

It's no doubt that a facility like this has been a long time coming for the greater Carbon County area and is a great thing for our local communities. The opportunity is there, and if you're an athlete trying to get to the next level do yourself a favor and take advantage.