A dream come true
Gym floor project energizes community
Tuesday, August 20, 2013 9:40 AM
Efforts to bring a brand new high-tech floor to the gymnasium at Spring Grove Public School has paid off. "The community is responding," Todd Olerud said last week. "It's really impressive."
A great percentage of current Spring Grove high school and junior high athletes along with several recent alums came together on June 28 and 29 to express their appreciation to the community for supporting the new gymnasium floor project. Wearing their Booster Club “Community Pride” shirts, they broke up into several work groups for numerous projects throughout Spring Grove.
Olerud serves as president of the Spring Grove Athletic Booster Club. "It's been a lot of people doing a lot of things," he added.
"We had a couple people step up and kind of get this project going, and then it's just been non-stop. People are asking 'What can I do to help?'
"Everyone in the area is so giving. They get behind things and help. It kind of motivates me as well."
Local businessman JC Nerstad is one of those volunteers who have been in the forefront, even though he's not actually a member of the booster club.
"We're still looking for some support," Nerstad said recently. "We need approximately another $12,000 to cover all the bases. We've got part of a large matching offer that's still on the table, so if people donate, their gifts will be doubled."
Nerstad noted that donations ranging from $10 to $10,000 have come in, helping efforts by boosters to raise $50,315. When coupled with a $31,885 gift from the estate of Betty Bretz (formerly Betty Quinnell), the total will pay for the removal of the old floor, asbestos mitigation and installation of a new, shock-absorbent playing surface.
The district has stepped up to repaint the gym, clean air ducts and take care of some incidental work that will leave the facility looking like new.
"We're excited about how the whole project is going to turn out," Nerstad concluded.
The new Connor Sports "Focus" floor is currently being installed in the gymnasium by Athletic Performance Solutions of Stillwater.
It features maple hardwood over a pre-assembled plywood sub-floor, which is anchored to the concrete.
The sub-floor rides on strips or lineal pads of material resembling aircraft tires, fitted into grooves in the wood base.
The rubbery material compresses under load, absorbing 60 percent of the shock of a player running, jumping, or landing on the floor. The system is also said to provide excellent "bounce", returning 95 percent of the energy delivered when a ball hits the floor.
"The 60 percent cushion is one of the highest out there," teacher/coach Wade Grinde reported. "The 95 percent ball return is also one of the highest."
"It's night and day compared to the floor we took out of there. There was a layer of cork below our old hardwood, but it was compressed down to nothing. We had less than 5 percent give."
Grinde noted that players, especially bigger kids, have been having knee, back and ankle problems for years.
"It became more than a convenience thing, just to have a new floor," he said. "It became more of a safety issue. It was on our wish list, but the school never had the money for it. The (Bretz) donation kind of got the idea going."
Olerud said that Spring Grove student-athletes turned out en-masse for a two-day work session at the end of June, performing a wide range of jobs in parks and recreational facilities, around local businesses, at private homes and even building a footbridge along a local walking trail.
"They talked about it and decided that they wanted to do something to give back," he stated.
"We printed up some T-shirts for the kids. They said 'Community Pride' on one side, and 'Thank you for all your support' on the back."
When truckloads of flooring finally arrived on Aug. 16, dozens of student athletes, high school and junior high, turned out to carry the sub-floor panels and bundles of maple boards into the gym.
Their strong backs were urgently needed, since there was no way to bring the forklift through the entryway into the main hall.
"The kids were just great," Grinde added. "They understood what a big deal this is to our community, and they've been more than willing to help.
"We've even had alumni show up, and some of them served as crew leaders (in June). They still recognize the support they received during their careers."
The community continues to amaze coaches. "There are so many little things that people don't know about," Grinde said, "Like little gestures when we go on a road trip, things such as people sending food when we travel."
"We just thought, 'We need to let everybody know how much we appreciate it, and we thought the best way was to just get out and show them."
Olerud, Grinde and Nerstad all toured various flooring specialists, and then reported their findings back to the district.
Athletic Performance Solutions got the nod in part because the "focus" floor is certified to perform as advertised by an independent testing group.
"It put some science behind it, where you could actually compare one floor to another," Olerud said.
At Stillwater, Olerud got to dribble and jump on floors of various design. "You could go from one to the other," he said. "Some had no absorption. I was jumping up and landing stiff-kneed. If I did it on something like our (old) floor, you could feel it right up through your spine, that jolt. With this floor you didn't feel that. The effects on your knees are going to be much better."
"We've made these kids bigger, stronger, faster. Because of that we're seeing some negative side effects. They're developing knee and back problems. Both my kids have experienced that. Jordan had shin splints when she left high school. After she graduated, she found that college floors (with shock absorption) are night and day different. We'll be getting a floor that's just as good."
Grinde said that after a decade of wishing for a new floor, the spiffy new gymnasium truly represents a dream come true.
"To have a brand-new facility, including the new paint is great. We're just going to have a lot more energy in the program."