The location for the filming of the Hickory Gym scenes in the 1986 film “Hoosiers” is a gem if you consider the history there. Built in 1921, it was originally constructed to be the home court for the Knightstown Panthers. The high school stopped playing games there in 1966 and the gym sat dormant until 1985 when the producers of “Hoosiers” discovered it for their movie.
Since then, the little gym off I-70 has become a mecca for hoops fans who love the movie. The Knightstown, Indiana attraction sees anywhere from 60,000 to 80,000 visitors a year looking to cross the gym off their bucket list.
I am one of those people. Living just outside Cincinnati, I should have visited the gym several hundred times by now. “Hoosiers” is in my Top 5 favorite movies and obviously, I love the sport of basketball. So, for me to be 52 years old and never having set foot in this gym is a shame.
Finally on January 1, 2021, I can finally say “I’ve done it.” First off, the gym is nestled in a little neighborhood surrounded by homes, so it seemed a little out of place when we pulled up to it.
Once you get inside, the memories of the movie come rushing in and you could be anywhere in the world. Although a “lobby” was added in 1936, there’s not a lot of room inside the doors of the gym. It’s a quick right or left, through a doorway and you are on the court, standing where Coach Dale ran practice with the Hickory team.
You can look at photos and you can watch the movie, but nothing can take away the feeling of being on that court. I graduated high school in 1987 and I probably saw “Hoosiers” in the theater 5 or 6 times. I was on my high school basketball team and we were a small school, so it all fell into place for me.
Unfortunately, we didn’t pull off a big upset like Hickory (or Milan, if you want to be historically accurate), but the movie has always reminded me of my high school days. For me, being on the court was a dream come true.
The events coordinator, Bob Garner and his right-hand man Merv, gave my friend and I a quick tour of the facility. Then, I was allowed to shoot around for a while.
The court can get busy in non-pandemic times, so you never know when you can shoot around. On this day, we were the only ones there, so I got an extended amount of shoot around time. Normally, you would have to schedule time and hope the gym isn’t being used for a high school all-star game or some other local event.
Overall, I would HIGHLY recommend this experience for anyone who loves basketball or the movie. If it’s not on your basketball “bucket list”, it definitely should be. It’s an awesome experience!
You can learn more about the gym visit thehoosiergym.com,