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Friday Photo Blog: The Hoosiers Gym

In conjunction with Rob Cleveland’s powerful homage to HOOSIERS, Eric Cox brings us the real-life side of the gym which Hollywood’s David Anspaugh used to take us all back to the 1950’s.  Three decades after the film’s release the mystique of the “Hoosiers Gym” remains profound.

photos and captions by Eric Cox

Click here to read Rob Cleveland's powerful tribute to the film, Hoosiers.
Click here to read Rob Cleveland’s powerful tribute to the film, Hoosiers.
Hoosiers Director David Anspaugh tries an “Ollie” free throw at the Hoosier Gym in Knightstown. The century-old gymnasium, once home to the Knightstown High School Panthers, served as Hickory Huskers’ home court in the beloved 1986 film. Anspaugh and a small entourage stopped by the Hoosier Gym in March 2013.
Hoosiers Director David Anspaugh tries an “Ollie” free throw at the Hoosier Gym in Knightstown. The century-old gymnasium, once home to the Knightstown High School Panthers, served as Hickory Huskers’ home court in the beloved 1986 film. Anspaugh and a small entourage stopped by the Hoosier Gym in March 2013.
The Hoosier Gym is owned by the town of Knightstown. But, the town leases it to non-profit organization, which operates and cares for the aging facility. For years, longtime volunteer Mervin Kilmer has undertaken a variety of responsibilities, including sidewalk cleaning, serving as a tour guide and much more. Known as the Hoosier Gym Community Center of Knightstown, the non-profit group, of which Kilmer has served as president, is responsible for all the gym’s physical aspects, including heating and air conditioning, all maintenance, event scheduling, staffing, etc. The organization operates off of donations, grants and rental income.
The Hoosier Gym is owned by the town of Knightstown. But, the town leases it to non-profit organization, which operates and cares for the aging facility. For years, longtime volunteer Mervin Kilmer has undertaken a variety of responsibilities, including sidewalk cleaning, serving as a tour guide and much more. Known as the Hoosier Gym Community Center of Knightstown, the non-profit group, of which Kilmer has served as president, is responsible for all the gym’s physical aspects, including heating and air conditioning, all maintenance, event scheduling, staffing, etc. The organization operates off of donations, grants and rental income.
Each June, Hoosier Basketball magazine and the Hoosier Gym team up for the Hoosiers Reunion All-Star Classic Doubleheader, which features Indiana’s top male and female preps talent, also known as the Indiana All-Stars. Since the Hoosier Gym is in Henry County, organizers often select premium area players to join in the throwback games. Boys and girls teams square off in “Hickory” and “Terhune” uniforms. Likewise, cheerleaders from Knightstown High School don period cheerleading costumes, leading the gym’s cheer blocks in nostalgic cheers from back in the day. In this 2010 photo, cheerleaders pose with the original fan bus used in the film.
Each June, Hoosier Basketball magazine and the Hoosier Gym team up for the Hoosiers Reunion All-Star Classic Doubleheader, which features Indiana’s top male and female preps talent, also known as the Indiana All-Stars. Since the Hoosier Gym is in Henry County, organizers often select premium area players to join in the throwback games. Boys and girls teams square off in “Hickory” and “Terhune” uniforms. Likewise, cheerleaders from Knightstown High School don period cheerleading costumes, leading the gym’s cheer blocks in nostalgic cheers from back in the day. In this 2010 photo, cheerleaders pose with the original fan bus used in the film.
The Lady Hickory Huskers line up for introductions prior to the 2012 game. Some have described their visits to the Hoosier Gym as “stepping into a time machine.” Indeed, this photographer has witnessed grown men cry upon entering what, to them, must be a very special place.
The Lady Hickory Huskers line up for introductions prior to the 2012 game. Some have described their visits to the Hoosier Gym as “stepping into a time machine.” Indeed, this photographer has witnessed grown men cry upon entering what, to them, must be a very special place.
Moments after I snapped this photo, Hoosiers Director David Anspaugh asked if he could have a moment alone in the Hoosier Gym’s basement locker room, where Coach Normal Dale (Gene Hackman) showed his players how to run the “Picket Fence.” Pensive throughout his March 2013 visit to the gym, Anspaugh nevertheless cheerfully signed autographs and shared production stories with visiting fans of the movie and Hoosier Gym staff.
Moments after I snapped this photo, Hoosiers Director David Anspaugh asked if he could have a moment alone in the Hoosier Gym’s basement locker room, where Coach Norman Dale (Gene Hackman) showed his players how to run the “Picket Fence.” Pensive throughout his March 2013 visit to the gym, Anspaugh nevertheless cheerfully signed autographs and shared production stories with visiting fans of the movie and Hoosier Gym staff.
Basketball isn’t the only use for Knightstown’s historic Hoosier Gym Community Center. Weddings, birthday parties, class reunions, political forums, alumni banquets and sock hops (like the one in this photo) are regular events. Youth basketball leagues practice and play there regularly, as do adult pick-up ball leagues.
Basketball isn’t the only use for Knightstown’s historic Hoosier Gym Community Center. Weddings, birthday parties, class reunions, political forums, alumni banquets and sock hops (like the one in this photo) are regular events. Youth basketball leagues practice and play there regularly, as do adult pick-up ball leagues.
Knightstown native Bill Sitler is one of the few remaining citizens who actually played ball in the gym as a high school student. Sitler has been an active Hoosier Gym volunteer for decades, having served as treasurer, tour guide and general goodwill ambassador. Present when Hoosiers Director David Anspaugh visited, Sitler told him how he’d played ball in the gym as a youngster. That brief story was enough to move Anspaugh to tears, overcome apparently by the nostalgia. Here, Sitler is show in the Hoosier Gym foyer.
Knightstown native Bill Sitler is one of the few remaining citizens who actually played ball in the gym as a high school student. Sitler has been an active Hoosier Gym volunteer for decades, having served as treasurer, tour guide and general goodwill ambassador. Present when Hoosiers Director David Anspaugh visited, Sitler told him how he’d played ball in the gym as a youngster. That brief story was enough to move Anspaugh to tears, overcome apparently by the nostalgia. Here, Sitler is shown in the Hoosier Gym foyer.
The Knightstown American Legion Post 152 Honor Guard presents the colors prior to tip-off at the 2011 Hoosiers Reunion All-Star Classic Doubleheader. Located on Main Street (U.S. 40) in Knightstown, American Legion Post 152 is one of few area posts to offer honor guard services at ball games and veteran funerals.
The Knightstown American Legion Post 152 Honor Guard presents the colors prior to tip-off at the 2011 Hoosiers Reunion All-Star Classic Doubleheader. Located on Main Street (U.S. 40) in Knightstown, American Legion Post 152 is one of few area posts to offer honor guard services at ball games and veteran funerals.
Indiana high school basketball players often relax and lounge around the Hoosier Gym bleachers prior to their respective performances. Soaking in the history and traditions that surround Hoosier hardwoods, like Knightstown historic gym, players can often be seen taking selfies and video as they preserve their various experiences.
Indiana high school basketball players often relax and lounge around the Hoosier Gym bleachers prior to their respective performances. Soaking in the history and traditions that surround Hoosier hardwoods, like Knightstown historic gym, players can often be seen taking selfies and video as they preserve their various experiences.
Grilling hamburgers for the concession stand in 2009, longtime Hoosier Gym volunteer Larry Loveall is no stranger to gym events. Concession stand sales bolster the gym’s limited finances. That means Loveall and other gym volunteers regularly busy themselves preparing and selling hot dogs, popcorn and other items to hungry visitors.
Grilling hamburgers for the concession stand in 2009, longtime Hoosier Gym volunteer Larry Loveall is no stranger to gym events. Concession stand sales bolster the gym’s limited finances. That means Loveall and other gym volunteers regularly busy themselves preparing and selling hot dogs, popcorn and other items to hungry visitors.
Former Indiana Pacer Clark Kellogg records a television commercial for an Indiana school at the Hoosier Gym in 2005. Kellogg is just one famous face to visit the Hoosier Gym. Over the years, a variety of VIPs have been to the gym. Among those are Larry Bird, LeBron James, Carmello Anthony and Magic Johnson. During the Bobby Knight era at IU, Knight’s son, Tim, brought basketball camps to town that featured IU standouts like Jared Jeffries, Michael Lewis, Tom Coverdale and more.
Former Indiana Pacer Clark Kellogg records a television commercial for an Indiana school at the Hoosier Gym in 2005. Kellogg is just one famous face to visit the Hoosier Gym. Over the years, a variety of VIPs have been to the gym. Among those are Larry Bird, LeBron James, Carmello Anthony and Magic Johnson. During the Bobby Knight era at IU, Knight’s son, Tim, brought basketball camps to town that featured IU standouts like Jared Jeffries, Michael Lewis, Tom Coverdale and more.
Hoosier Gym souvenirs are always on sale, and proceeds benefit the historic structure. T-shirts, DVD copies of the film, posters, pencils and other items can always be purchased on a visit to the gym. Among the favorites are buttons like these and Jimmy Chitwood T-shirts emblazoned with the words, “I’ll make it.”
Hoosier Gym souvenirs are always on sale, and proceeds benefit the historic structure. T-shirts, DVD copies of the film, posters, pencils and other items can always be purchased on a visit to the gym. Among the favorites are buttons like these and Jimmy Chitwood T-shirts emblazoned with the words, “I’ll make it.”
About 99 percent of the Hoosier Gym’s episodes are happy ones. But, that hasn’t always been the case. As a community center, the gym is often open for several hours each day, often with only one or two volunteers manning the large facility. In 2008, some local youths apparently got bored and triggered a fire extinguisher indoors. In this photo, one of the kid’s frustrated and embarrassed mothers looks at the resulting mess. The gym’s insurance policy covered the clean-up. Knightstown volunteers chipped in, helping a team of cleaning professionals paid for by the insurance company. No real harm was done, although it took days to clean up.
About 99 percent of the Hoosier Gym’s episodes are happy ones. But, that hasn’t always been the case. As a community center, the gym is often open for several hours each day, often with only one or two volunteers manning the large facility. In 2008, some local youths apparently got bored and triggered a fire extinguisher indoors. In this photo, one of the kid’s frustrated and embarrassed mothers looks at the resulting mess. The gym’s insurance policy covered the clean-up. Knightstown volunteers chipped in, helping a team of cleaning professionals paid for by the insurance company. No real harm was done, although it took days to clean up.
Now a central tourist attraction for Knightstown and Henry County, the Hoosier Gym, however, was once a modest high school gymnasium. Beneath the gym’s bleachers are the chalked-in names of guys who played for what were then the Knightstown High School Falcons.
Now a central tourist attraction for Knightstown and Henry County, the Hoosier Gym, however, was once a modest high school gymnasium. Beneath the gym’s bleachers are the chalked-in names of guys who played for what were then the Knightstown High School Falcons.
Little kids learning the fundamentals of basketball just seems so right in a place like the Hoosier Gym. Here, Optimist Club youngsters practice their dribbling skills. Feelings of Hoosier pride swell up for most people when they enter the gym - even for non-Hoosiers!
Little kids learning the fundamentals of basketball just seems so right in a place like the Hoosier Gym. Here, Optimist Club youngsters practice their dribbling skills. Feelings of Hoosier pride swell up for most people when they enter the gym – even for non-Hoosiers!
Enshrouded in mist, the Hoosier Gym’s main entrance offers a scene from the early 20th century. Built in 1920, the gym would serve as a new home for Knightstown student athletics and assemblies, which had before settled for a large space above a Main Street business. Today, the gym is a major tourist attraction for Knightstown, drawing thousands of visitors from across the nation each year.
Enshrouded in mist, the Hoosier Gym’s main entrance offers a scene from the early 20th century. Built in 1920, the gym would serve as a new home for Knightstown student athletics and assemblies, which had before settled for a large space above a Main Street business. Today, the gym is a major tourist attraction for Knightstown, drawing thousands of visitors from across the nation each year.

About Eric Cox

Eric Cox is the publisher and owner of The Banner, Knightstown’s award-winning weekly newspaper. A husband, father, freelance photographer, photojournalist, writer, editor and cycling enthusiast, Cox is an Indianapolis native who resides in Henry County.

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2 comments

  1. If you want to see more of this great gym, Google Hoosiers Revisted, and watch a great video.

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