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Scoring some points for The Hoosier Gym

By DARREL RADFORD - dradford@thecouriertimes.com

“If you put your effort and concentration into playing to your potential, to be the best that you can be, I don’t care what the scoreboard says at the end of the game, in my book we’re gonna be winners.” – Actor Gene Hackman in his role as Coach Norman Dale during the movie “Hoosiers.”

In 2017, approximately 69,313 people stopped to see the place where those words were said – the Knightstown gym that served as the home court for the fictional Hickory Huskers. Recently, Knightstown Town Council members, wanting to live up to Coach Norman Dale’s words, took steps to maintain the historic structure and make it ‘the best it could be’ for future generations to enjoy. 

The town is requesting a $500,000 grant from the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs (OCRA) to update the roof at The Hoosier Gym. There will be a local match of $100,000.

Board President Kevin Knott and fellow member Roger Hammer both praised the facility during the public hearing.

“The Hoosier Gym Community Center has added greatly to the community,” Knott said. “This project will sustain the vitality of the structure for many years to come. The Hoosier Gym group manages the facility very well. People come from all over the world to visit this facility and it is a real asset to Knightstown.”

Likewise, Hammer commended the Hoosier Gym Committee and Board. 

“I meet people from across the nation that have seen or would like to see the gym,” Hammer said. “The maintenance of the structure is vitally important to keeping this crown jewel in the community for many years to come.”

Bob Garner, events coordinator for The Hoosier Gym, said the facility and its movie mystique is well-worth maintaining.

“In the last year, we’ve had one restaurant reopen and another one under construction,” Garner said. “We’ve had visitors from every state in the union multiple times and we’ve visitors from 62 countries from as far away as Australia.”

Garner said the teamwork exhibited in the movie has also helped The Hoosier Gym draw visitors. A billboard on the interstate in conjunction with the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame is drawing lots of spontaneous business. There was even a wedding there last July.

A recent motorcycle ride reinforced how popular the film continues to be. Every time Garner stopped and people asked where he was from, the Huskers became a topic of conversation.

“From here to Boulder Colorado, I didn’t run into one person who had not seen the movie,” said Garner, who was a member of the last Knightstown High School basketball team to play its regular-season games in The Hoosier Gym in 1966.

OTHER BUSINESS 

The public hearing on Hoosier Gym was just one of two conducted during last Thursday’s council meeting, convened a week earlier than usual to accommodate time-sensitive issues. Council also held a public hearing on appropriation of funds needed to pay for “one-time expenditures” for a new tornado siren that would do the same work as three older ones are doing now. 

Council members learned at the April meeting that all three sirens now in use are more than 30 years old and technically obsolete. They were advised a single-siren approach with a newer grade of technology would be more cost effective for the town versus the current Civil Defense-type Cold War-era units now used.

There were no objectors present at either of the public hearings.

Also at the meeting:

• Council approved a request from the Jubilee Days committee to use the Town Square Wednesday, June 13 through Saturday, June 16 for the annual event. The traditional Saturday parade will step off from the Intermediate School parking lot this year, a departure from the start in prior years. Officials said the amusement company will arrive on Monday and leave on Sunday of Jubilee week. Council members learned the local Chamber is working with CGS to pick up festival trash, which will mean town employees won’t need to provide for trash pick-up.

• Council President Sarah Ward commended Clerk-Treasurer Beth Huffman for being selected to serve on the Indiana Municipal Power Agency Committee.