MARQUETTE, Mich. (WJMN) — The literal foundation of the NCAA Tournament is the hardwood of the courts. Since 2006, those floors have been made in the Upper Peninsula.
Connor Sports, a 150-year-old company with 150 workers, is in Amasa, northwest of Iron Mountain. Seventeen years ago, it became the official supplier of hardwood flooring for all the courts for the men’s and women’s NCAA tournaments.
“We’ve been providing courts to the Olympics now for a number of years,” technical director Jason Gasparich added. “We do countless NCAA college-level teams. We do floors for approximately 50% of the NBA teams. And then hundreds of high schools and elementary schools, rec centers every year.”
What makes Upper Peninsula hard maple such an outstanding playing surface is the relatively short growing season of the trees, Gasparich explained.
“Those short growing seasons yield a maple that is very tight grain so small growth rings, small spaces between growth rings, makes for a much more dimensionally stable and better end product,” Gasparich said.
Many Connor Sports floors are portable and can be laid down over an ice surface or removed in a matter of hours.
Gasparich said Connor Sports credits its success to the fierce dedication of its staff and attention to detail only found in the most skilled of craftsmen.
“None of it would be possible without the help of our team of champions here, our employees that are on site. They make it happen,” Gasparich said.