Sunday, July 27, 2014

welcome to knightstown

In a 1951 locker room Coach Norman Dale is repeating the simple game plan to his young Hickory Huskers, "how many passes are we going to make before we shoot?" "Four," comes the response.  Then up the stairs they go, the door swinging open to the sounds of pep band music & cheers.  If you've come this far on our hardwood journey, you most likely know the rest of the film "Hoosiers."  Maybe, like many others, you've asked, "have you been to Knightstown?  What about New Castle?"  Until last week the answer to both was no, not yet.  New Castle's appeal is size (the largest high school gym in the world) and Knightstown - hopefully more than a credit line.  But the time seemed right, so on a perfect midsummer day we headed north and to our surprise found an old gym (built in 1922 and refurbished in 1936 with WPA funds) full of life.  There are souvenirs for sale, tourists from all points guided by celluloid memories, but every day a group of Knightstown boys (current & former Panthers) meet to play ball.  And play ball.  Subbing players in and out, the games go on - 4, 5, 6 hours a day.  They take breaks for water and let visitors snap photos of the gym, but then it's back to work.  Watching is hypnotic - old wood echoing the rhythmic pounding of the ball.  And like an endless reel, Gene Hackman's voice whispering, "welcome to Indiana basketball." CGS.

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