Seriously? Your Generation-X viewpoint couldn’t be more transparent. You’re the kind of disaffected writer that didn’t want Kevin and Winnie to be together at the end of The Wonder Years, because, you know, “Reality, man!”. You even have lovable Ollie becoming some sort of town drunk. Here’s what really happened:
It wouldn’t surprise me if Shooter had a good buzz going when he relayed his story about coming up just short at the Sectionals all those years ago. He probably meant 1923. Which puts him appropriately at 46 during the movie. No doubt he’s hit the bottle hard in his life, but I think the state title gives him an overwhelming sense of accomplishment and he lives in a state of joy his remaining six years on earth, sharing his coaching tales with anyone that will spare a few minutes. He dies of liver failure and is buried in his “wingdinger.”
Everett looks after his father until he passes away. Retired Coach Norman Dale (more on that later) becomes an adopted father figure in his life. At his former coach’s suggestion, Everett joins the Navy. He sees considerable action in Vietnam, and is even present on the USS Maddox incident that heightens America’s involvement in Southeast Asia. He is honorably discharged, and returns to Indiana. With Dale’s endorsement, he becomes Hickory’s new basketball coach. His hard-nosed, no non-sense style is very reminiscent of his mentor. He preaches fundamentals and teamwork. Everett also inherits his father’s keen sense of scouting. Between that and his relentless work ethic, he keeps his team competitive, even making it to the Sectionals twice during his tenure. Unfortunately, he never has his Jimmy Chitwood walk through the door. He’s able to share stories of his team’s mythical run to the title with his players and the wounded veterans he visits on the weekends. He’s elected to the County Board and that occupies most of his time these days.
The actor that played Rade was actually on scholarship at the time of the filming. It wouldn’t surprise me with his shooting touch if he got offered a full ride at a smaller Indiana school like Depauw. He frustrates his college coach much like he did with Norman Dale and rides the bench his first two years. He becomes a solid contributor and eventually leads the team in scoring his senior year. His parents can’t hold back tears at his graduation ceremony as he is the first to receive a degree in a family full of farmers. He becomes a dentist and runs a relatively successful business in Lafayette.
On the heels of a state title, boys finally come out of the woodwork to play for the Hickory team. Whit barely makes it onto the roster the next year, given his limited skill set. He rides the bench and only contributes with sparse minutes. He never attends college, opting to work on the family farm. He inherits a fair chunk of land when his father passes away in 1980.
Soft-spoken Ollie finishes two years at a Junior College and now sells insurance. He makes an honest living, and enjoys married life, with 3 kids who all shoot granny style. His famous free throws are charmingly reenacted by the school’s mascot every year at the pre-season pep rally.
Strap follows in his father’s footsteps and becomes a minister. He still paints the church bus every fall and gladly drives the team around from game to game.
Buddy is vastly underrated by everyone that bothered to comment on this article. He’s the team’s best defender and a heck of a point guard. They hold South Bend to like 40 points in the state title game. Buddy is a shutdown defender on their best player. He gets a scholarship to a D-II school to play basketball and baseball. His coach convinces him his path to the majors is much more realistic. He bounces around the minors a few years after college, corralling several attractive women, but ends up getting one of them pregnant. He quits baseball to settle down with her and sells cars for a living now. You can see him driving around Hickory occasionally in his red corvette.
Merle is arguably the best player on the team before Jimmy signs on. He’s got D-II level talent. Unfortunately he tears his knee his sophomore year running the picket fence and loses his scholarship. He works at his uncle’s granary and served as the best man at Ollie’s wedding.
Jimmy freaking Chitwood. He’s the best player on the best team in the state. His talent is almost immeasurable given his PER ratings. Indiana is traditionally a hotbed of basketball talent, so it’s not a stretch to say Jimmy is at the very least one of the top 10 high school players in the country. He’s not going to frickin Purdue. He’s going to Indiana and he’s winning a national title. He goes on to the NBA and enjoys a fine career. Had the 3-point shot been introduced during his time in the NBA, he’s undoubtedly a hall of famer. Some of the game’s greats still think he could put Steph Curry to shame. He makes it onto the Celtics roster in 1968–69 season where he rides the bench most of the time, but finally enjoys the thrill of winning a title at the professional level. He retires and rides off into the sunset. He’s inducted into the Indiana basketball hall of fame. He rarely visits Hickory anymore, but when he does, he never pays for a meal. The high school gym is renamed in his honor.
Myra Fleener and Coach Dale do move to Indianapolis where she can finally finish her master’s degree. They marry after a short engagement. Coach Dale is rightfully convinced he can never live up to his God-like status as a coach that brought the small town of Hickory a state title. He promptly retires after one season. He enjoys living off his navy pension, while Myra earns a nice living as a college professor at a small Indiana school. They have no children, but Coach still keeps in touch with his former players, particularly Everett. His visit for the 30th anniversary will be the first time he’s returned to Hickory since Myra’s mother passed in 1960. He hasn’t set foot on a basketball court since that title game. His quote “Welcome to Indiana basketball” is inscribed on a plaque in the locker room that every player touches for good luck before going out to play.