Project Description

Starting Over and Getting Stronger

Joplin High School Rebuilds using Tarkett Sports Athletic Flooring

If you like a good sports comeback story, there is none better than Joplin High School.

JHS didn’t come from 30 points down to win the championship in the fourth quarter. The school did something even more spectacular. Its story involves an unprecedented F5 tornado that destroyed the high school and leveled most of the surrounding community. In 2011, the tornado left them with nothing. After clearing the rubble and establishing an interim school location, the school began the arduous task of rebuilding the school and the athletics facilities that had once been at the center of the Joplin community.

The silver lining to this literal dark cloud was that it gave Joplin High School an opportunity rebuild better than before. The school could reconsider its needs and think about the future. With a visit from President Barrack Obama and widespread media coverage, the national spotlight was on the city of Joplin. People were watching to see how the community would respond. Would this tragedy mean the eventual decline of Joplin or would it show a resiliency that would give hope to the nation? Obviously, rebuilding was a pivotal stage that was full of possibilities and repercussions. It had to be done right.

School staff began planning with architects from the DLR Group for a new facility that would address the practical needs of a demanding educational environment and redefine the community in a positive way. Together, they outlined design goals that sought to “improve the overall utilization rate of these spaces” and “enhance flexible and creative use of space.” For Joplin High School’s athletics program in particular, it was decided that an auxiliary gym would make a tremendous difference in the day-to-day operations of the athletics program. Joplin High School was lucky enough to have funds for two costly hardwood competition courts, which they wanted to protect, so another gym was planned to host activities that might otherwise damage those expensive wood courts.

It was also determined that an indoor walking/jogging track around the main basketball court could provide an outlet for students to stay fit, while at the same time serving as a transitional area between spaces. Here, finding a durable and comfortable walking surface would be critical. Joplin’s strength and conditioning coach, Mike Lawrence, wanted an equally durable surface for the new weight training facility, which sees around 600 students per day. He wanted to focus on teaching and not worry about damaging the floor with heavy traffic.

The Joplin High School rebuild was innovative in terms of more than just creative design. Building materials were utilized that were proven to last in modern educational facilities, which included indoor athletic surfaces.

The Solution for Joplin High School
Omnisports™ Multi-Use Flooring and Droptile™ Weight Room Flooring

To rebuild, Joplin High School chose Tarkett’s Omnisports™ and Droptile™ surfaces for its auxiliary gym, jogging track, and weight room.

Omnisports™ has a natural wood grain appearance, but its performance is something quite different than a hardwood court. Jeff Starkweather, Athletic Director of Joplin Schools, noted that some people are not even aware that their auxiliary gym isn’t made of wood until they step on it a feel the cushion under their feet. Omnisports™ 8.3 mm is a cushioned vinyl sports floor that provides all the sports performance characteristics outlined in ASTM F2772 with Class 3 shock absorption to reduce strain and fatigue. However, the floor really stands out for its ability to host anything from a school dance to baseball practice. Omnisports™ is by far the most popular Tarkett Sports surface for easy, multipurpose applications.


“We have two maple wood floors. We try and protect those as best we can. The third gym has the Omnisports™ flooring in it and actually we love it. It’s been great for us. It’s kind of an all-purpose gym and we put that flooring in there because of that. We host all our dances in there. Our ROTC rifle team, they can go in there. If they drop a rifle, it’s not going to chip the wood floor. Our baseball and softball teams practice in there. There is an indoor batting cage that we can drop down. The balls are not scuffing up the maple floor. It’s been a great thing for us to be able to protect these two wood floors to have the all-purpose floor as well.”

—Jeff Starkweather, Athletic Director


For its weight room, JHS also chose a Tarkett Sports surface with a proven record of durability. Droptile™ is a customizable, recycled rubber tile with a 1″ profile to absorb impact and reduce vibration. It stands up to an average of 600 students per day without issues and its 15-year warranty means that the coaching staff has little to worry about other than training their athletes for the next game.


“After researching the different flooring types, we went with the Droptile™ because the environment we’re in, the abuse it takes with weights being dropped on the floor either accidentally or through some of the Olympic lifts, we wanted something that was going to hold up over time and look as good ten years from now as it did the day we installed it.”

—Mike Lawrence, Strength and Conditioning Coach


When Vice President Joe Biden spoke at the dedication ceremony of the newly rebuilt Joplin High School he said of Joplin that, “anyone in America would want to be a part of a community that has hung together like this one, that had the grit that this one has shown.” Tarkett Sports was honored to be a small part of how this strong community chose to rebuild and reinvent itself—and perhaps add a little “grit” in the form of durable, long-lasting sports floors.

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