If there’s one thing Indiana is known for, it’s the average Hoosier’s love of basketball. That love and passion made it to the big screen in 1986. “Hoosiers” depicted a mid-1950s small town basketball team’s journey to the state finals and is widely considered the best sports movie ever made.
The gymnasium that served as the Hickory Huskers’ home in the movie is located in Knightstown, Indiana, just about a 10-minute drive from Draper headquarters in Spiceland. The Hoosier Gym was built in 1921 and now is a tourist attraction that brings in fans of “Hoosiers” from all over the world. Last week it was in the news again as Governor Eric Holcomb (R-IN) was in town to dedicate a new outdoor basketball court.
The Hoosier Gym sits next to Academy Place, a senior residential facility and host of many community events. Originally the school building for Knightstown pupils in grades 1-12, it is on the National Register of Historic Places.
“The original outdoor basketball court that sat on the Academy grounds had been THE gathering place for local youth and adults for several decades for impromptu games of hoops on the Academy grounds up until the early 90’s when it was bulldozed over,” said Kevin Richey, Academy Place community outreach coordinator. “For several years since, it has been this community’s hopes that this outdoor basketball court would return.”
This hoops dream became a reality last year thanks to a generous grant from the NBA’s All-Star Legacy Committee on behalf of NBA All-Star Indianapolis. Knightstown Kids Inc, Academy Place, and the Hoosier Gym received the grant. The basketball court is one of 21 projects focusing on health and wellness or education. The grants have impacted 90,000 youths statewide.
Draper was among area companies, such as Spiceland Wood Products, supporting the project. The new outdoor court features Draper basketball backstops.
Holcomb agreed to officially open the new court on one condition: that he could take the first shot.
“The Governor, as most Hoosiers, is a huge basketball fan,” Richey said. “After his speech, the Governor took the first ceremonial ‘shot’ on the court, and he scored!”
“It’s a true joy,” Holcomb was quoted as saying by New Castle Courier-Times. “We want to convey how proud we are here. A real love we all share for the game of basketball. There isn’t a more special place in our state right here. This is Hoosier Hysteria at its finest.
“It couldn’t be more fitting that we are gathering out here on this lawn. The character that is going to be built on this outdoor court. Win and lose the right way. It applies to building a community. … What a magnet this court is going to be for the community.”
The Hickory Outdoor Court is available for play free of charge from dawn to dusk. It is a replica of the Hoosier Gym court floor, including the same dimensions and court lines.
“All of us here in Knightstown proudly boast that we are a progressive little community that SETS trends, not followers of trends,” said Richey. “We are the gem (and gym!) of east central Indiana! Knightstown is living our history and creating our bright future!”
To learn more about the Hoosier Gym, including directions and other visitor, click here to visit its website.