You Tube Video (3-7-2015)- Growing up a farmer and basketball player from a small town in Indiana, Kent Poole encompassed every aspect of what it means to be a true Hoosier. His life changed dramatically when he landed the role of Merle in the movie, Hoosiers. From the outside, it was a life that appeared to be close to perfection. Inside however, was a different story.
(6-3-20) Kent Poole became a local celebrity in Thorntown, Indiana as a member of the 1982 Western Boone basketball team that played against Gary Roosevelt in the IHSAA state semifinals. Roosevelt would edge them 38-36. His Senior season would prepare him for his part as Merle in ‘Hoosiers’.
Many of the Hickory players had played for their schools in Indiana. But Kent Poole was the most Hoosier of “Hoosiers.” He was raised on a farm, played basketball at Western Boone, a rural school and quit school to return to farming. He also played when their was just one class to decide a state champion, just like Hickory.
But to the world Poole will be most remembered as ‘Merle Webb’ from ‘Hoosiers’. He would go to an open audition and stood in line in Indianapolis just like many other potential first time actors and was selected to be one of the Hickory Huskers.
Remember Poole and most of the Huskers had never acted professionally, that was planned and was a way to make the film more realistic and down to earth.
His first line came in “Hoosiers’ when the team meets Coach Norman Dale and talks about the number of the boys in the school. Another big scene for Poole was the picket fence play, he didn’t watch the paint dry and hit the winning shot. His character Merle gave up the last shot in the team huddle during the state title game and that would end with Jimmy Chitwood’s famous line ‘I’ll make it.’
But Poole’s one line in the film that stands out and is referred to often by many basketball fans comes just before the championship game in the locker room.
Let’s win this game for all the small schools that never had a chance to get here.
No Happy Ending For Poole
For Poole his real-life story would have a tragic ending, reportedly despondent over his disintegrating marriage and financial troubles, he would hange himself outside his home on Sept. 11, 2003, leaving behind his wife and three young children.