Keith Edmonds is a 32-year veteran of teaching and school administration from Fort Wayne. He coached boys high school basketball as an assistant at Snider High School, North Side High School and was the head boys basketball coach at Elmhurst High School for 12 years, advancing to the Class 3A State championship in 2003.
INDIANA BASKETBALL is something that other states look at and marvel. Hoosiers (as we are called) often get asked the question, “Why is basketball such a big deal in your state?”
The usual reply is “It just is!”
For many of us, playing basketball in the state of Indiana became an obsession from the first time we touched a ball. We didn’t need a scoreboard or timer or even great shoes; even though I would argue that my high-topped Converse Chuck Taylors were the best. We just loved playing the game and whenever we had the opportunity to play then that’s what we did.
We didn’t allow weather or lack of equipment stop what we were trying to do which was play and play and play. I was fortunate that I had some tough competition that groomed and challenged me on a daily basis to be the very best that I could be. I didn’t have to look far for a great game or travel too far to find tremendous competition. But back to the the question “what sets Indiana apart from the other 49?” I guess the best way to answer this question would be to take a look at the level of interest in our schools, communities and players that have come from these schools and built a tradition that has come to be a “way of life” for those of us that live here.
There are so many talented players that have come from Indiana such as Oscar Robertson, Larry Bird, Rick Mount, Bobby Plump, Shawn Kemp and this is just a start. If we wanted to talk about coaches, then we would name John Wooden, Bobby Knight and Gene Keady who all have been tremendously successful coaches that have either played here or have taken their collegiate teams to national success.
How about Tony Hinkle, who thought that orange was a better color for a basketball than brown and coached for over 41 years at Butler University? This state just exudes basketball out of its pores. We build high school gyms larger than the population not only of the school but ENTIRE COMMUNITIES! That’s what sets us apart from every other state. Where in the country can you find 13 of the country’s top 15 largest high school gymnasiums with the top six seating almost 8,000 fans each other than in our great state?
Hoosier Hysteria is not an illness, but it does cause people to lose their minds during our state tournament. It’s unique in that every school gets to be in the tournament. There are no qualifying rounds, season records don’t mean anything and it’s not seeded. It’s truly what sets this state apart from the other 49. And the season never ends. Just take a drive throughout our state and you’ll find a hoop hanging on a pole, a barn or mounted to a garage with kids getting shots up; we love our hoops! The passion never stops and continues from generation, to generation.
When someone asks “Where are you from?” and you say Indiana, the next response is “so what school did you play ball for?” It’s just a national programmed response. I think that the historical marker that sits next to a bank in downtown Crawfordsville, Indiana sums it up best as it reads: Indiana, the Cradle of Basketball. Because to many, this is where basketball was born.
Courtside with Coach Edmonds will appear every Monday during the prep basketball season at Outside the Huddle. These opinions represent those of the writer. No opinions expressed on Outside the Huddle represent those of any of our advertisers.