MARQUETTE, Mich. (WJMN) – With tip-off less than a day away, the NCAA Men’s Basketball tournament is certainly one of the high points of any sports fan’s year. The literal foundation of that tournament is the hardwood of the court. Since 2006, that floor has been made in the UP.
Located in Amasa, Iron County, is Connor Sports, a one-hundred-and-fifty-year-old company, employing 150 people. 17 years ago, Connor Sports became the official supplier of hardwood flooring for all the courts for both men’s and women’s NCAA tournaments. According to Technical Director, Jason Gasparich, Connor Sports is so much more.
“We’ve been providing courts to the Olympics now for a number of years. We do, you know, countless NCAA college-level teams. We do floors for approximately 50% of the NBA teams. And then, you know, hundreds of high schools and elementary schools rec centers every year.” Said Gasparich.
What makes Upper Peninsula hard maple such an outstanding playing surface is the relatively short growing season of the trees, Gasparich explains.
“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.” said Gasparich.
According to Gasparich, like so many companies based in the UP, Connor Sports credits its success to the fierce dedication of its staff, and the 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.” said Gasparich.
Many Connor Sports floors are portable and can be laid down over an ice surface or removed in a matter of hours. Though games are played all over the country, from a UP perspective, they all have home-court advantage.