This article is by David Layman, a special contributor to TheScorecardReview.com. It is no surprise that the movie Hoosiers was a big hit in Indiana. Thirteen of the world's sixteen largest high school gyms in the world are located in Indiana! The gym in Knightstown, where many of the games in the movie were filmed, has been kept just as it was in the movie, and is open for visitors, happy to be shown around by a proud local resident. Even though the movie wasn't filmed in tiny Milan, the theme of Hoosiers comes from the tiny (73 boys enrolled in the school) Milan's team upset victory over mighty Muncie Central in 1954. Many small schools remember well Milan's victory, and cherish the hope of upsetting a bigger school, just like in the movies.
So, it's fitting that the premiere of the Blu-ray edition of Hoosiers (on the 25th anniversary of the release of the film) be in Milan. A nice, modern gym was the setting for the showing (much nicer than the 1954 high school facility). More than 125 showed up for the screening, from children to the middle-aged to senior citizens who experienced the first game. People came from Ohio and Kentucky, as well as Indiana. Seven players returned, including Bob Plump, who hit the winning shot. Mary Lou Wood, the deceased coach's wife, also attended. Unlike the movie, Milan's real life coach was 26 and happily married.
Ray Craft, a Milan player on the 1954 team, reported during the question and answer segment how excited he was receiving a phone call when Hoosiers was being made, asking him to play a small part. He was the man who welcomed the Hickory Huskers to the famed Hinkle Field House for their practice before the state finals. In real life, Craft became an important official in the state high school athletic association.
Beyond the theme of David vs. Goliath, and basketball, Hoosiers is cherished by those who want a second chance for redemption, like Hickory's coach (Gene Hackman), or Shooter (Dennis Hooper), the town drunk who longs for a new life. Simply put, it's the best sports movie out there (with just a little romance thrown in). If you don't already own Hoosiers, make sure to add this 25th Anniversary edition to your collection.
Photos courtesy Rachel Jackson