The Milan Miracle: The Town That Hoosiers Left Behind

The Milan Miracle: The Town That Hoosiers Left Behind

The Milan Miracle: The Town That Hoosiers Left Behind

The Milan Miracle: The Town That Hoosiers Left Behind

Synopsis

Will lightning ever strike twice? Can David beat Goliath a second time? These questions haunt everyone in the small town of Milan, Indiana, whose basketball team inspired Hoosiers, the greatest underdog sports movie ever made. From a town of just 1,816 residents, the team remains forever an underdog, but one with a storied past that has them eternally frozen in their 1954 moment of glory. Every ten years or so, Milan has a winning season, but for the most part, they only manage a win or two each year. And still, perhaps because it's the only option for Milan, the town believes that the Indians can rise again. Bill Riley follows the modern day Indians for a season and explores how the Milan myth still permeates the town, the residents, and their high level of expectations of the team. Riley deftly captures the camaraderie between the players and their coach and their school pride in being Indians. In the end, there are few wins or causes for celebration--there is only the little town where basketball is king and nearly the whole town shows up to watch each game. The legend of Milan and Hoosiers is both a blessing and a curse.

Excerpt

The photograph on the poster in Josh Blankinship’s office was immediately familiar to me. Behind his cluttered desk and antiquated Dell computer, he had the poster mounted in a cheap black plastic frame, drilled into the cinder-block walls of his office under the home bleachers of Milan High School. the photograph was familiar to me because I, like Josh, was born to Indiana, born to a state that had been basketball-mad for some time. He was one year my senior at twenty-eight years old in 2010, and had also been born to Indiana during a tumultuous time for the state—economic decline, agricultural decline, manufacturing decline. the decline wasn’t relegated to the pocketbooks of Indiana’s government and residents. Like everything that happened in the state, it affected basketball. Basketball was and continues to be the state’s primary diversion. It’s the topic of discussion during coffee hours in the basements of churches; it’s on the lips of barbershop and library and grocery store patrons. the local school’s colors are shoe-polished onto the windows. Even those Hoosiers who hate basketball know it’s important to those around them.

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