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State of the art floors usher in a new era for Hawkeye Volleyball

BY RYAN RODRIGUEZ | SEPTEMBER 24, 2013 5:00 AM

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Advancements in sporting equipment technology are rapid and ever changing. Having the best gear can help push athletes above their competition, something that the Iowa volleyball team understands very well.

When the Hawkeyes took the floor on Sept. 21 against Iowa State, they did so on a brand-new TeraFlex Sport M Plus volleyball court, a surface that only seven other teams have in the country.

Joe Corbett, the sport market specialist for Gerflor USA, the company that produces TeraFlex Sports Floors, said, “It looks nice, but ultimately it really is for the athlete. It’s like if they could pick out the best ball that they could play with or the best shoes that they could wear, it goes hand in hand with that.”

So what exactly makes TeraFlex so special? Well, for starters, the Sport M Plus model significantly decreases wear and tear on whoever is using it, as well as improving traction for the athletes’ shoes and reducing friction when someone slides on it.

Instead of the traditional hardwood surface on top of concrete, TeraFlex utilizes a thin, 7-millimeter layer of vinyl top surface on top of a layer of cushioned safety foam. The court itself is broken up into 30 separate sections that, once unrolled, cover a surface area of 6,000 square feet. Once the Hawkeyes finish their meet, the Carver-Hawkeye staff can simply roll up all 30 sections and store them in their containers — the process taking roughly two hours.

For the team, all it took was one set to notice an immediate difference.

“It felt great,” senior Bethany Yeager said. “It’s a lot softer when you dive, and it absorbs a lot more impact. It’s easier to move on too. Since it’s brand-new, there isn’t much wear and tear so it’s easier to move and chase down balls. When you dive, you slide a lot more, so it’s definitely an improvement when playing.”

The new courts are a result of several years of petitioning by the volleyball program and head coach Sharon Dingman.

“It was something we presented to our administration [officials], and they made the decision to commit to it this year,” she said. “We’ve been asking for the last couple of years, so we we’re excited when we finally got it.”

While new to Iowa, TeraFlex technology has been around for some time. Since it débuted in 1947 as the first-ever vinyl playing surface, it has been used for a range of sports including volleyball, badminton, table tennis, handball, and roller hockey. In fact, it has been the official volleyball-playing surface of the Olympic Games for the past 10 installments, débuting in Montréal in 1976.

“It’s something that’s starting to catch on quickly,” said Matt Frailey, a flooring specialist at Specialty Floors who helped install the court for the first time at Carver. “The University of Hawaii was the first to make the change in 1984, and just this year we have added Iowa, Kentucky, and James Madison. Because it’s easy to roll out onto a normal court using this system, we are able to transform any venue into a volleyball arena in a matter of hours.”

Iowa is one of only eight Division-I programs that have made the switch to TeraFlex since 1984. While this is certainly an exclusive group, that three schools have made the jump in the past year suggests that it may be part of an emerging trend for the NCAA.

“Since we’ve been able to perfect our portable system, it’s taken off,” Frailey said. “The teams love it because instead of being a volleyball team playing on a basketball surface, they get to play on a volleyball-specific surface.”

And while this trend may just be getting started, it’s just the latest in a long line of high-tech improvements that Iowa has made to its sports programs in recent years, including a multimillion-dollar indoor practice facility for football and the Hoak Family Golf Facility.

Either way, the Hawkeyes couldn’t be happier with their new digs.

“Obviously, we’re really thankful to [Athletics Director] Gary Barta and the administration for making this happen for us,” Dingman said. “It really does change Carver into a volleyball venue.”


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