Throwback Thursday: Celebrating the Hickory Huskers in Knightstown

My lovely girlfriend surprised me with an hour-long shoot around at the Hoosier Gym in Knightstown last Saturday. The gym, of course, was the home of the fictional Hickory Huskers in “Hoosiers” (1985) — loosely based on the Milan High School team that won the state title in 1954.

We actually viewed the movie together before driving over to the gym, where we would ultimately compete in a few heated games of HORSE. (And it’s not important who won or lost two out of three — so don’t ask me because it’s a sore subject.)

Because “Hoosiers” is my favorite film, this experience was a long time coming. It’s not only my most beloved movie, mind you, but it also includes my favorite film quote: “My team is on the floor.”

Ah yes, a valuable lesson about principle for young Rade. (Trying to circumvent the four-pass mandate will get you nowhere, my man.)

We were shown around by the gentleman on site, and he told us how producers came to choose the gym largely thanks to the work of Knightstown resident Peg Mayhill, who persistently lobbied the Indiana Film Commission during the selection process.

He also took us down into the locker rooms. I found this intriguing because I’d always assumed they filmed the locker room scenes in another location — one of those trademark Hollywood “tricks.” But no, they were down there basking in all their quaint glory.

The gym’s web site also has more on how the gym was initially built:

In 1920, the Knightstown Community School had no gymnasium. Basketball games were held in Bell’s Hall above Jolly’s Drugstore and in the basement gym of the Presbyterian Church. It was clear: the school needed a gymnasium of its own.

In February of 1921, a half dozen Knightstown businessmen met to discuss the situation. They were aware of the fact that Knightstown was lagging behind other towns in the development of a children’s athletic education and believed that area young people were entitled to physical education.

After much debate, a plan was developed and approved. A new gym would be built. Within weeks, their campaign raised more than $14,400 with donations from more than 250 private citizens and several local businesses. Construction started in the summer of 1921 and the gym was ready for use by December 1921. The first high school basketball game in the gym is believed to have been on November 25, 1921. Final score Knightstown 10, Sulphur Springs 11. The first victory for the Knightstown Falcons came on December 2, 1921 against The Indiana School for the Deaf, winning 20-18 in overtime.

Oh, and as far as you know, I made this free throw (pictured).

PS – For more about the gym, see this interesting post on Hidden Gyms. Additionally, the gym offers group tours and can host events, like family reunions, for a very reasonable price. Just call its office at (800) 668-1895.