INDIANAPOLIS, Ind.— It’s a story familiar to anyone who calls Indiana home and one of the greatest underdog stories in all of sports!
Milan High School, a small school with only 161 students, stormed through the Indiana High School Athletic Association State Tournament in 1954, winning the title. The underdog story came to a climax with the final shot taken by local basketball star Bobby Plump.
“I think it’s was a big deal, but did I think it would last 60 years? No way did I think that,” said team member Ray Craft.
The movie “Hoosiers” brought the Milan story to a worldwide audience and insured its place in Indiana history. But even the filmmakers admit that the real story is much better than the Hollywood version.
The ‘54 team gets together every year, but this 60th reunion was different. This year, the team walked back onto the court of Hinkle Fieldhouse during a recent Butler University basketball game. They waved and looked back at what they accomplished and the close bond they created with each other.
“Close, really close. It’s hard, old age and all. It’s just like a family, almost like a family,” said team member Gene White.
Sixty years later, a new generation of basketball fans lined up at halftime of the Butler game to get an autograph from the Milan players. They shook hands with the small town boys who grew up to become coaches, teachers and businessmen. The Milan players admit their lives changed forever that day, when a group of small town heroes beat the odds and proved anything was possible.
“It’s just been a remarkable, remarkable thing,” said Plump.
“I think it gave hope to a lot of small towns.”