Indiana trip inspired by iconic basketball film awaits Grafton boys’ teams on holiday weekend
The movie “Hoosiers” has inspired more than a few teams with its mythical David and Goliath tale of the smallest Indiana high school to win a state basketball title.
For members of the Grafton High School boys’ basketball program, the film will soon become the centerpiece of a real-life experience.
The Grafton School Board on Monday approved a request for the varsity, junior-varsity and freshman teams to travel to Indiana on Friday, Dec. 27, for a holiday weekend of Hoosier-style hoops.
During their stay, the Black Hawks will participate in a Saturday tournament at Cascade High School in Clayton, with one of their two varsity games against Hagerstown, one of Indiana’s top-ranked teams.
The previous day, the three dozen or so Grafton players from all three traveling squads will practice in the same Knightstown gymnasium used in the movie by the fictitious Hickory High squad in the 1950s.
Besides getting an afternoon workout, the Hawks will have their team photos taken as they wear replica Hickory uniforms.
“I think it’s going to be a great exper-ience for our guys,” said Grafton varsity boys’ coach Bob Maronde, who orga-nized the trip.
“When I found out we had a chance to do this, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity.”
Maronde, a Grafton High School graduate and longtime coach with its boys’ and girls’ basketball programs, said he first read about the Knightstown gymnasium being used by teams that tour the facility and play on the same court immortalized in the movie.
When Maronde discovered the gym was available the same weekend the Hawks could play in the Cascade tournament, “I rented it right away for four hours,” he said.
In the 1986 movie starring Gene Hackman, the Hickory Huskers ride the hot hand of star player Jimmy Chitwood all the way to the top. The film is based on the real-life Milan High School team that won the 1954 Indiana state title.
Now known as the Hoosier Gym, the court has not been regularly used for basketball since 1966. However, the building has been preserved and is available for daily tours and special events.
Maronde said the trip will provide valuable bonding time for players and coaches, with an iconic sports film as inspiration.
“It will a step back in time and a tremendous learning experience,” he said.
Plans call for the Hawks to leave Grafton at 5 a.m. Dec. 27 for a five-hour bus ride to Kingstown. They will stay two nights at a hotel in Plainfield, Ind., and leave for home at 10 a.m. Dec. 29.
The trip is voluntary. Participants will hold a variety of fundraising activities to cover expenses, Maronde said.
In preparation for the adventure, Maronde has one other thing planned. He rented the Rivoli Theatre in Cedarburg on Dec. 23 for a private screening of “Hoosiers.”
“Instead of our morning practice, we’ll be going there to see the movie, complete with soda and popcorn,” he said.
“If any of the kids haven’t seen it before, this will be their chance to see on a big screen.”
Grafton High School Principal Ken McCormick presented Maronde’s request for the trip Monday with a game-winning endorsement.
“It should be really neat. They’ll have fun and get to play some good basketball down there, too,” he told the board.