When the James Madison volleyball team takes the court for its home opener on Sept. 6, Sinclair Gymnasium will have an Olympic feel to it. That’s because this August, JMU installed a state-of-art court surface called Taraflex.
Specifically, the product is the Taraflex Sport M Performance and it was installed on all five volleyball courts inside Godwin Hall. It is the same court that has been used in the last 10 Olympic Games, including 10 courts installed for the 2012 London Olympics, as well as being the official exclusive flooring for the Federation of International Volleyball (FIVB).
“We could not be more excited about the new floor,” JMU Head Volleyball Coach Lauren Steinbrecher said. “Taraflex is the best volleyball surface in the world to play on. They play on it in the Olympics, FIVB and there are also a few Division I volleyball programs that use this flooring. We have the nine millimeter court which is the top-of-the-line model; so it is great for impact and offsetting long-term, high-impact injuries.”
JMU is now the fifth Division I volleyball program to install Taraflex for its playing surface. Other schools with the court include Nebraska, Clemson, Hawai’i and Kentucky with the University of Iowa also installing it this fall.
“Taraflex is a vinyl floor with two layers of shock absorbing cushioning underneath,” Joe Corbett, a Sport Market Segment Manager for Gerflor USA said. “It’s made specifically to be a sport floor. It’s not a vinyl floor that someone added cushioning too and decided it’s good for sports as well. Gerflor invented this in 1947. It has two layers of cushion to it, which provides good shock absorption without sinking into the floor.”
The flooring is manufactured in Tarare, France and was shipped over by boat. It arrived in Harrisonburg on Aug. 9 and installation took about six days to complete.
Coach Steinbrecher and the administration decided to move to a new playing surface after doing research on the amount of impact injuries the team has sustained over the three years she’s been coaching at JMU.
Steinbrecher added, “For the last couple of years, and actually it probably goes back a decade or so having talked to other people, we’ve had quite a few injuries in our program where the players come in healthy and by the time they get to be juniors and seniors they have a lot of impact-related injuries. We went to the administration and they were wonderful about putting our student-athletes and their welfare first. They said they would do whatever it took to get a safe playing environment for our girls.”
The safety is a big selling point for Gerflor, with Corbett saying, “safety of these courts is the number one concern” according to his conversations with coaches. In addition to absorbing shock from the constant jumping and diving involved in volleyball, the court also has a coated surface of urethane that is UV-baked into the surface. This provides what Corbett described as the proper ‘coefficient of friction” that is ideal for volleyball players. Players get the proper amount of grip to move around smoothly on the court but are also able to dive and slide on the court without worrying about floor burns tearing up their skin.
Corbett added that there are scientific standards that measure the coefficient of friction and the Taraflex has met or exceeded them all.
The Dukes unveil the new court on Sept. 6-7 as they host the first of two home tournaments this season. JMU welcomes Wyoming, CSU Bakersfield and Presbyterian to Harrisonburg for the two-day, six-match tournament. Their home opener is on Sept. 6 at 7:30 p.m. against Wyoming while the home schedule includes 13 matches at Sinclair Gymnasium this fall.
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