If you’ve glanced to the north as you driven by the baseball fields on the 7th Street-side of McAdams parkyou may have wondered what the building might be. Well the building is party of the youth baseball league’s further expansion.

Steve Clark has spent 38 years of his life in public school education – 21 years teaching English as a second language in the Manhattan, KS school system and 17 years teaching at North High School in Wichita, as an ESOL teacher and then as director of the district’s north learning center.

As a retired teacher, Clark is ready for his next chapter as the new executive director of League 42’s new Leslie Rudd Learning Center, slated to open early next year across from the  League 42 baseball fields on the 17th Street side of McAdams.

The program will be limited to student-athletes, ages 5 to 14, already enrolled in the League 42 baseball league. 

The Learning Center will offer after-school tutoring to students in two 45-minute sessions a week. Tutoring will be done by volunteers, including high schoolers looking to earn community service credits for college scholarships. The volunteers will be supervised by professional educators.

“We will call them student coaches and coaches,” he said, a nod to the sports origin of the center.

The 10,500 sq. ft. building is located at 1212 E. 17th North, the site of the old Thunderbird Bus Company.  So far, the only indications of its purpose are a League 42 logo painted on the street center median and a sign on the surrounding wrought iron fence that says “League 42 parking.” 

So far, only the framework of interior rooms is up, but with essential services such as electrical and plumbing complete,Clark is still hopeful for a late-January launch of the program.

Sign-up for League 42’s 2023 season is already complete. The planned five-week sign-up began in early October, but by the end of the third week, enrollment for the 600 spaces in the program stood at 590.

“We started making a waiting list for the League. And we know that we have way more potential students than we can support in a pilot program that will be open to only about 50 kids,” Clark said. “Obviously, we’ll be looking at how to support a rapid growth curve.”

He said the program will differ from many after-school programs in a significant way. He will be contacting or having volunteer tutors contact the teacher of each student in the program to get guidance on what their precious 45 minutes of time twice a week should concentrate on.

“We will ask the teacher what that student is struggling with,” he said. “The program will be directed at giving them extra help in learning that discipline.”

Initially, Clark said, he wanted to offer paid jobs to tutors but the level of financing for the program won’t support that, and he’s asking for volunteers.

“Some day,” he said.