This page summarizes the Hoosiers screenplay, written by Angelo Pizzo, dated September 24, 1985, with revisions dated September 26. This summary mainly notes how the original script differs from the movie. Where the two are the same, that information is condensed or omitted. (The Collector’s Edition and 2012 Blu-ray DVDs include some of these scenes that were cut from the film.)
For a synopsis of Hoosiers, visit IMDb.
Norman is packing and preparing to leave his apartment in Buffalo, New York. The opening shot is of a photo of Norman and his 1939 National Small College Division basketball championship team, Ithaca State. Norman takes the photo off the wall and tosses it in his suitcase. He is described as “40-plus years and not so straight and proud, nor full of joy” (in contrast with his happy image in the photo).
Norman drives into Indiana. Along the way he stops in Sunville, home of the Shiners (according to a sign along the road). He stops for gas at Junior’s Gas and General Store, where he encounters father and son Junior and J. June. The teenage boy is shooting baskets at an outdoor court, and Junior is “furiously chewing ‘ter-backer.’”
He arrives in Hickory, population 540. As Norman pulls up to the school, school is letting out. Outside he encounters Myra, “whose attractiveness is winning the war with her efforts to blunt it.” They talk briefly, and then she directs him to Cletus’s office.
Norman goes in to see Cletus, “a small, wiry old man.” They walk through the school and then enter the gym. Jimmy comes in to shoot baskets and ignores Norman.
Norman and Cletus talk outside on Cletus’s farm (where Norman will be living) while feeding the pigs “hog scrapple.”
Norman has dinner with Cletus, his wife Millie, and his daughter Loetta, a cheerleader. Loetta grills Norman about his personal life. Norman mentions that he was married at 24 and divorced at 28.
Norman meets some of the townspeople at the Hickory Creek Coon Hunter Lodge. The gathering includes barber Russell “Rooster” Rabun, Sheriff Roy Dockerette, and George Wampner, the town’s principal businessman. When they ask him about his past, Norman says he used to coach college basketball and has been working at a steel mill for 12 years. Rooster says he thinks the team’s nickname should be changed to Apaches.
The next day, Norman sees Myra in the hall between classes, where she explains why Jimmy won’t be playing on the team.
At the first basketball practice, George presides. Norman enters, he and George argue, George storms out, Norman kicks out Buddy for being disrespectful, and Whit leaves also.
On Cletus’s farm, Loetta tells Norman about her grandpa, nicknamed The General, who has not left his own house on Cletus’s property since he got into an argument with Cletus two years ago. She also mentions that Buddy was her boyfriend, but she broke up with him because he walked out of the first practice. She calls him immature.
The second basketball practice.
Norman: “Let me be very clear what we’re after here. Team, team, team. … Five pistons powering one machine.”
Walking through downtown Hickory with Cletus, Norman meets Shooter for the first time.
The third basketball practice. Townsmen come in and sit down to witness the coach’s “pig crazy ways of coachin’.”
Sheriff Roy: “We got some concern about the way matters are being handled here. When two of your best ball players walk off and you hear of others complainin’. Well…”
Rollin and his son Whit enter. Whit apologizes for walking out of the first practice. Rollin gets rid of the onlookers.
That weekend, the entire town pitches in to help harvest corn on Rollin’s “hundert-acre farm.”
The next week in Norman’s classroom, four students are missing, including Buddy. According to Rade, Buddy has “done transferred to Sunville.”
Norman storms into Cletus’s office, angry about Buddy’s transfer. Cletus warns him to get his temper under control.
In the evening, Norman leaves the gym as Myra is exiting the school. Jimmy is shooting baskets at the outdoor court.
Norman: “Pretty shooter.”
Myra: “Leave him alone.”
Norman: “You’ve made your point. I’m not sure I understand it but it doesn’t matter.”
Myra and Norman’s “He’s a special kid/Who would ever see him play?” dialog.
Norman: “College recruiters always find the good ones. It’s got to be more than that.”
Myra: “There’s no way anyone who is a basketball hero in these parts can be somebody ‘they’ don’t want him to be. I saw it happen to my brother. People around here treated him like a god and acted as if they owned him. They pushed their own frustrated fantasies and dreams into his head until there was no room for his own.”
Norman: “And what are you doing with Jimmy?”
Myra: “It’s not the same.”
Norman: “Most people would kill for the chance to be treated like a god, even if it was for a short time.”
Myra: “To be treated like a god because you can throw a rubber ball into an iron circle is to any clear-thinking individual—absurd.”
Myra: “After all, there is no getting away from the fact that basketball is only a game.”
Norman: “Why so unfriendly, Miss Fleener?…”
Myra: “I know men like you.”
(The rest of the dialog continues much as it does in the movie.)
Norman goes over and talks to Jimmy at the outdoor court (his “I don’t care if you play on the team or not” speech). Myra is watching in the background.
The afternoon pep session introducing the team. The cheerleaders have a different cheer as each player appears: “Ollie, Ollie, by gosh, by golly. He’s a Hickory Husker. Rade, Rade, he makes the grade. He’s a Hickory Husker.” When the crowd begins chanting for Jimmy, Norman silences them.
Norman’s classroom that evening. Myra compliments Norman on how he handled the difficult pep session. He asks if she will go to a movie with him, but she walks away without answering.
In the locker room before the first home game.
On the court: “An explosion of sound and light. Indiana High School Basketball. The small gym overflowing with unrestrained energy. Opposing walls of noise doing battle. Rapidly shifting waves of color.” As Hickory struggles against Oolitic, some of the Huskers openly defy Norman’s instructions about four passes before a shot. During a timeout in the fourth quarter, the Hickory players begin talking. Norman grabs Whit by the arm and squeezes hard.
Norman: “Don’t you numbskulls hear me when I’m talking? No one, I repeat no one, talks unless I say so.”
Cletus: “The boys are not used to being yelled at like that.”
Norman: “That’s the way I coach.”
Cletus: “That’s what I’m afraid of.”
When Norman benches Rade for not following orders and then restarts the game with only four Hickory players on the floor, Myra, in the crowd, looks amused.
After the game, Norman lectures the Huskers in the locker room.
The next day, Norman reads a book in Cletus’s barn. Loetta enters and tries to engage him in conversation. Buddy stops by to ask if he can rejoin the team. Norman gives his OK.
Norman goes into the barbershop for a haircut. Rooster and Roy hassle him, so he leaves.
Norman encounters Myra and Opal outside the feed-and-grain store. Opal invites him to dinner.
Shooter visits Norman at home to talk about the upcoming Cedar Knob game.
The team travels to their first away game at Cedar Knob.
The Cedar Knob game. Myra, in the crowd, runs out during the fight. Cletus is angry.
Jimmy visits a library in another town and gets a stack of books.
Norman assists Opal and Myra with their sorghum grinding. Opal takes Norman to task for his negative demeanor:
“Bringin’ some of it on yourself. Walkin’ around with a how-the-hell I got stuck in this hick town attitude. People ain’t blind here. Nobody likes bein’ looked down at and, son, you’re lookin’ down.”
Norman has dinner with Opal and Myra that same evening. When Opal mentions that Myra lived in another city for a while but then moved back to Hickory to care for Opal, even though that wasn’t really necessary, Myra gets angry and leaves the table.
The team travels to an away game at Needmore. Cletus tells Norman his opinion of Myra:
“She’s an odd duck—always has been. Thinkin’ herself a notch higher than most. Big city taught her different. Don’t pay her any attention.”
On the way to the game, they come across a wreck involving Jimmy and his brother JP, who is seriously hurt. Jimmy and JP’s truck collided with an Amish buggy and then crashed into a tree. Norman tries to stabilize JP and says he will take him to the hospital in Linton.
Later that night, Norman shows up outside the Needmore gym in a pickup truck after the game is over. Shooter tells him that George took over coaching duties and that Hickory lost. Norman says he must return the truck to Linton and then hitchhike back to Hickory. Shooter offers to join him.
Cletus and Norman on the farm. Cletus asks Norman why he missed the entire game at Needmore: “Just wonderin’ why you never showed up at all.” Norman doesn’t answer. Cletus climbs a ladder in the barn to retrieve some Indian corn decorations. The top rung gives way, and he falls, breaking his leg.
Thanksgiving. Norman takes some turkey to Cletus in his bedroom, where Cletus lies in a body cast.
Jimmy at the library in another town, looking at bound copies of the Indianapolis Star from 1939.
Basketball practice. Norman advises the Huskers that they must become a tough team to play against. He also asks Everett where Shooter is, because he hasn’t talked to him in a while.
Norman visits Shooter at his home in the woods; the dwelling is actually a cave: “At the crest of the hill is an opening into the earth which is so small, they have to crouch to enter.”
Norman: “I want you as my assistant coach.”
Norman: “Only under the following conditions…” (His dialog at this point proceeds much as it does in the movie, except that he doesn’t say “You’re embarrassing your son.”)
When told he must stay sober, Shooter reacts with silence. Norman then gets up to leave, remarking, “Shooter, you can do it.”
Verdi game at home. Shooter shows up to be assistant coach. The townspeople make angry remarks. This causes Shooter to panic and run to the locker room. Norman follows. Shooter is throwing up. Norman reassures him, and they return to the court.
The next week in Norman’s class, Ollie gives his “progress” report. After class, Everett tells Norman of his concerns about Shooter’s being an assistant. Myra enters the room and informs Norman of the upcoming meeting at which the townspeople will decide his fate.
Myra: “It goes a lot deeper than one game.”
Norman: “Yes. I suppose you’re right. Well, I can guess one name that will be on that petition.”
Loogootee game at home. Norman is ejected. He tells Shooter to take over. Shooter “looks around, panicked, stands, up, turns and runs out the door. Everett’s head drops.” Rollin tries to take over coaching duties. Norman sits alone in the locker room.
After the game, Myra and Jimmy see George walking outside with the referee who ejected Norman. (The implication probably is that, before the game, George colluded with or even bribed the ref to throw Norman out of the game on a trumped-up charge.)
Norman sits alone at the train station. Myra enters.
Myra: “I used to come down here same time every day, and imagine I was riding out of here. I don’t do that anymore.”
She reads Norman a newspaper article she copied, about his troubled past. He asks where she got it. She says from Jimmy.
The town meeting opens with everyone “charged” and “riled up.” Rooster, George, and Opal all speak their minds. The Huskers and cheerleaders wait outside the church. Ollie climbs a ladder to look through a window. Merle tries to convince the boys to go in and defend the coach. Back inside, Preacher Purl and Rev. Doty are arguing. Purl wants to give Norman a chance to speak. Norman goes to the lectern: “I’m not up here to ask you to keep me on. You do what you have to do. I’ve made mistakes…” (The rest of his speech continues much as it does in the movie.) Ollie, in the window, gulps. When Norman is finished, he looks at Myra: “Isn’t it your turn now?” She hesitates but then goes to the lectern and starts reading the article. Abruptly she stops and says, “I think it would be a big mistake if we let Coach Dale go.” The crowd starts yelling. She talks over them: “Give him a chance.” Back outside to the kids. Loetta gripes at the boys for not trying to help save Norman’s job. The boys try to enter the church, but the sheriff pushes them back. The attendees vote. Outside, Ollie is still watching through the window. Jimmy approaches the church. He goes in, speaks his mind, and exits. The votes are counted. George: “Motion passed 59 to 51.” “Brief but intense exchanges” occur. Then Rollin overrules George: “Recount shows the resolution failing.” Even Myra can’t conceal her pleasure. Outside, the boys celebrate. Loetta kisses Jimmy. Merle: “Jimmy, are we gonna do it?” Jimmy: “We are.”
Home game versus Aurora with the reenergized Huskers, including Jimmy.
In Myra’s classroom the following week, Norman asks her why she defended him at the meeting, but she can’t really explain. He asks her if she’s upset about Jimmy’s return to the team.
Myra: “He made his decision.”
Norman: “The right one?”
Myra: “He obviously has to find out himself. If he’s going to make mistakes it’s better he make them while he’s young.”
A moment later, Myra asks Norman why he hit his college player. He struggles to explain. After that, he tries to thank her for standing up for him at the meeting: “What you did … took a good measure of courage…”
Norman dunks Shooter in the sink at his home.
Game montage: Stinesville, Decatur, Columbus, Rising Sun.
Home game versus Dugger—the last regular game of the season. Norman gets kicked out on purpose so that Shooter can take over. Shooter calls the picket fence play.
Montage of shots of tournament time in downtown Hickory and at the school, with radio voiceover narration about the tourney. The announcer says that 785 teams are playing in 55 sectionals.
At the sectional, the gym is “alive with sixteen different cheering sections, sixteen different sets of colors.”
In the sectional, Hickory defeats Cross Plains, Osgood, and Deer Lick before the game with Sunville. In the locker room, Norman says it’s been ten years since Hickory has been in the sectional finals. He tells the Huskers to play through their nerves. Rev. Doty enters to give the prayer, but Norman, probably remembering that Doty didn’t support him at the town meeting, tells Doty he wants Preacher Purl to offer the blessing.
When Shooter stumbles drunk onto the court during the game, Rollin pulls him away. Play resumes. “When J. June shoves Jimmy after a layup, Everett runs right at J. June, knocks him flat and crashes into the gym door, shattering the window.” Everett has cut his shoulder, and J. June ends up with a bandaged nose and a swollen eye. They both continue playing. After Hickory wins, “Rade takes the championship trophy and runs around the gym holding it aloft. Buddy runs over with the ball and hands it to Norman.” J. June says, “No hard feelin’s. All in the game. We’ll be with you all next week.”
Norman and Everett find Shooter unconscious in the woods near his home.
Norman visits Shooter in the hospital’s alcohol rehabilitation unit.
Opal gives Norman a haircut in her kitchen. She discusses the importance of the sectional and regional games.
As he leaves the Fleener house, Norman sees Myra gardening. She says “Yesterday’s [snow] was last of the year” according to the Almanac. Myra and Norman go for a walk toward “the crest of a tree-lined ridge overlooking a green, brown and white patchwork quilt valley. A fine, misting snow is falling.” Norman teases Myra for saying there would be no more snow. “Farmer’s daughter/Miller’s” dialog. “Green fields/postcards/go to Deer Lick to see a movie” dialog. Without Myra’s asking him, Norman tries to explain why he hit his college player. They kiss.
Norman visits Cletus, who is still in bed recovering from his broken leg and listening to the radio. Loetta yells from downstairs, “Come on, Norman. We gotta drive sixty miles (to the regional).” Cletus says to Norman, “For an old-timer you’ve done some serious growin’ up.” and “I’ll be there with you tonight…in here.” and points to his chest.
In the Jasper locker room at regionals, Norman says to Rollin, “I wish we knew more about this (opposing) team.”
In the gym, “More than 4000 fans are exhorting their teams on sophisticated banners, and card sections are part of a new look. This is more big-time and official than anything we’ve seen before. Lots of men with suits. A large radio broadcasting section. The Hickory contingent is by contrast more ragtag rural than the others.” The opposing players are taller and “more well-turned out.”
Hickory defeats North Vernon and then New Albany.
Outside the Jasper gym before the final game of regionals, Norman and the team are mobbed by fans and reporters.
In the locker room, “Stick to him like chewing gum” dialog, “Don’t talk about the next step” dialog.
Norman: “Forget about the crowd, the size of the other school, how fancy their uniforms are, in fact… forget about winning and losing, just…”
Buddy interrupts: “Coach, we’re gonna forget about losin’ but ain’t forgettin’ about winnin’. You always talkin’ about playin’ to potential. That don’t matter now. We ain’t got this far to go out and lose.”
Merle begins clapping slowly, and the others join in.
In the gym, “The crowd…is mostly with the underdog.” Jasper is “a physically more dominant team.” Their star guard is Billy Rayl. Everett reinjures his shoulder. Doc Buggins wants to take him out, but Norman bandages him and shoves him back onto the court. But then Norman changes his mind and benches Everett. Near the end of the game, the Jasper coach yells, “Foul the runt!” Ollie is fouled. As he prepares for his free throw, a Jasper player whispers to Ollie, “I didn’t know they grew ’em so small down on the farm.” The Huskers are ultimately victorious.
Everett visits Shooter in the hospital.
In the Hickory gym, reporters and photographers observe practice and corner anyone who will talk to them.
In a classroom that evening, Norman fields questions from reporters. Myra asks if he will be back next year.
Lineup of the state-finals caravan in downtown Hickory. Cletus is there in a wheelchair. Behind the team bus are a Cross Plains bus and a Sunville bus. (Hickory’s sectional rivals have decided to support Hickory at the state contest.) Sunville coach Junior wishes Norman luck. A six-foot-tall girl picks up Ollie and kisses him. Rooster explains that he is wearing his volunteer fireman’s uniform so that he can get into the game. He couldn’t get a ticket before they were sold out.
Norman and Myra duck into the barbershop. She tells him she’s thinking about looking into a graduate-school program in South Bend. They embrace. Opal taps on the window and tells them it’s time to go.
The General (Cletus’s reclusive father) appears. Everyone is shocked. He says, “Been waitin’ all my days for a blessed by God miracle to happen and I’m not goin’ to miss it for nothin’ or nobody.”
The caravan makes its way toward Indianapolis.
Norman and the team enter Butler Fieldhouse and are awed by the sight.
In the locker room that evening, Norman and the team discuss their opponent, Gary Roosevelt, an all-black school. They continue talking, with the boys’ “Let’s win this for…” remarks. Purl and Doty offer their blessings. Suddenly, to everyone’s surprise, Shooter appears in the doorway, having escaped from the hospital. He puts his outstretched hands with all the others in the circle.
During the warm-up, the Huskers are shocked to see the other team dunking the ball.
Merle: “My heart’s beatin’ out of my chest.”
Rade: “My God!”
Merle: “Do you see those guys?”
Rade: “My God!”
Everett slaps Rade.
Rade: “Okay. Let’s go.”
The radio announcer voiceover says that Hickory’s enrollment is 64 and Roosevelt’s is 2800.
As the singing of the state song ends, the player introductions begin.
Montage of people listening to the game outside the Fieldhouse and elsewhere.
Roosevelt jumps to a 16-4 lead. “This is embarrassin’!/I can’t stop that guy!” dialog. Husker timeout huddle dialog.
Timeout near the end of the game. Norman tells the team they will use Jimmy as a decoy, and Merle will take the final shot. The Huskers look upset.
Norman: “What’s the matter with you guys?”
Jimmy: “Don’t worry, coach, I’ll make it.”
Jimmy takes the final shot. “As we follow the ball, it slows down, moving frame by frame as it arcs. Flash the faces, full of anticipation, of our characters, standing, clenching their hands together. Shooter, Opal, Myra, Cletus, …” (The script doesn’t say the shot goes in; this is the end of the scene.)
We’re back in the empty Hickory gym, zooming in on the state-champs photo on the wall. (No kid shooting baskets is mentioned.)