Both the Men’s Final Four in Indianapolis and the Women’s Final Four in Tampa will fight it out with their shoes skidding across a floor made of Michigan maple.
The company responsible for making these floors is Connor Sports, a business located in the small Upper Peninsula town of Amasa, in Iron County.
The business has been around since 1872, a time before basketball was invented.
In order to make the floor, this year the company sought the help of children in Amasa.
“Well, this year was a little bit special,” said Jason Gasperich, director of sustainability for Connor Sports. “We had a local school district here in Michigan, near Amasa where our plant is, that owns a school forest. And we actually had a field trip where we had 460 kids from the Forest Park School District come out to their school forest and we cut down the first tree for this year’s men’s court.”
The trees used to construct the courts were Northern Hard Maple Trees, trees grown north of the 38th parallel. This wood specifically was selected for the Final Four.
“Well, it’s a very clear wood – and by clear I mean not that you can see through it but there are not very many knots, it’s very pure, white wood,” Gasperich said. “And it’s very hard, very dense, so it’s a very strong wood. And it’s very important, especially for the game of basketball, that you have a wood that is hard and dense because the last thing that you want is, you know, chips or splinters to come off the floor. It could be disastrous from an industry standpoint.”
In addition to the children in Amasa, Connor Sports also employed the help of children from eight different schools in the Indianapolis area.
“And we asked students in all of those eight schools to collect a very specific type of recycled plastic – it’s a number five, which more commonly would be recognizable as a plastic bottle cap, or yogurt containers are typically made out of that material,” he said. “So, again, there’s just another tie-together, not only for our local community, but the community down in the Indianapolis area, where the game is being played."