(Milan, IN) – Growing up in Indiana means watching — often time and time again — the hit 1986 film “Hoosiers” based on the 1954 Milan High School basketball team. The team has inspired generations of basketball players in Indiana and beyond, and now their trophy has found a new, permanent home.
In 1954, Milan High School, with an enrollment of only 161 students, was the smallest school to win the Indiana High School Boys Basketball Tournament, beating the much larger Muncie Central High School. The game would be known as the ‘Milan Miracle’ with a game-winning shot in the final seconds by team member Bobby Plump. The popularity of the team and the game-winning shot went on to inspire the fictional town of ‘Hickory’ in “Hoosiers.”
On Saturday, December 2, Milan High School will welcome fans back to the school for the men’s basketball home opener vs. Lawrenceburg. Fans will get the chance to explore the trophy room and the 1954 championship trophy in addition to experiencing the new lobby and concession areas while hopefully bringing home a win.
“I, as my teammates were absolutely amazed — we didn’t know what to expect. It is so much of an improvement, it’s awe-inspiring,” said Bobby Plump, 1954 ‘Milan Miracle’ team member who shot the game-winning basket in the championship game. When talking about the new championship trophy placement after the renovation, he added “It just jumps out at you. You have to stop and look at it.”
The new space, developed by design firm TowerPinkster, pays homage to the 1954 championship team in a way that honors their legacy and inspires new generations. The gym lobby is part of a larger effort to modernize the school and promote community involvement.
“We are thrilled to unveil the newly renovated gym lobby at Milan High School — a space built to celebrate the rich history of Milan Athletics while fostering a sense of community pride for all who enter,” said Ryan Langferman, principal, Milan High School. “The revamped gym lobby now features state-of-the-art amenities, visually appealing design elements and a layout that encourages social interaction. This space will not only serve as a welcoming entry point for students and visitors but also as a versatile area for various school events and activities.”
When designing the space, TowerPinkster Architect Hal Kovert and Interior Designer Amanda Hunsucker were both familiar with the legacy of Milan basketball and the “Hoosiers” movie but did not realize the legacy that this team holds in the local community. In the planning process, both Hunsucker and Kovert visited the Milan 1954 Museum to gain inspiration and knowledge about the school, its legacy and Milan as a community.
“I was inspired by the passion and excitement around the history of this town,” said Hunsucker, director and senior interior designer, TowerPinkster. “Being part of a design team that created a space where people will visit and see the murals and trophy for years to come is very fulfilling.”
The space is intended to take you back in time, with a modern and upgraded twist. The flooring in the entryway (terrazzo) and in the trophy room (an aged-look hardwood) transforms visitors back to the 1950’s when Milan inspired a generation of Hoosiers. The trophy room features lines (including the free-throw line) made to reflect the floor of the 1954 championship game. Additionally, exposed steel structure and gym-style lighting enhanced the historic look and feel of the design.
Inside the trophy room, images of the historic 1954 team are plastered along the wall to remind the school of its roots and build excitement for the future. The TowerPinkster design experts scanned original photos of the team, cheerleaders, a program and a handwritten chant from the cheerleading team to be used in the mural. In addition to the 1954 team, the mural features other sports such as swimming, golf, cross country, football and soccer.
The gymnasium was designed in 1956 — two years after the 1954 Milan Miracle team. While a vast improvement when opened in 1960, the entryway, concession and trophy areas were tight and often caused bottlenecks. The flow is now improved for every visitor with more room for ticket sales, concessions and community connection. The new design gives fans space to mingle and see the famous trophy, which was designed to be the focal point of the project, placed front and center with special, designated lighting.
Construction of the renovation work was led by the Poole Group of Dillsboro, IN. Currently, phase two of the project is in full swing which will include a new weight room for future Milan athletes.
Langferman also shared, “We believe that a well-designed and functional environment plays a crucial role in shaping the overall educational experience, and the renovated gym lobby is a reflection of our ongoing commitment to excellence. We look forward to witnessing the positive impact it will have on our school community for years to come.”
(Milan Community School Corporation press release)