(3-20-21) Maris Valanis graduated in 1981 from Indianapolis Bishop Chatard…after trying out for four years he never made the basketball team. He would never play a game during his high school days. But his career in the movie ‘Hoosiers’ would give him a state title. He might be the best known basketball player to ever graduate from Chatard.

Valanis told the qctimes in 2003

“My freshman year in high school, I was 5’3″. I grew a lot my senior year, so I was a lot slower and the coach never liked me much.”

The 1981 Bishop Chatard basketball team during Valanis’ Senior year in school. The Trojans did win a Sectional and came in 2nd in the City Championship during that season…but they did not win a state title. Something Valanis would do in ‘Hoosiers’.

Despite being cut from the basketball team Valanis was a star athlete. He was a key part of the 1981 Chatard golf team…who won the City Championship and came in 2nd in the Sectionals. and he was named to the All-City team. After the movie he moved to California and tried his hand at additional acting jobs. But he would soon leave acting and would become a golf pro and a caddie for professionals on tour.

1981 Golf Team

NOTE: Not sure if Andy Valanis is Maris’ brother.

Jimmy Chitwood Key ‘ HOOSIERS’ Moments

Quotes courtesy of Indianapolis Monthly

How Valanis landed the Jimmy Chitwood role in Hoosiers..reminds all of us what the movie was all about…2nd chances.

ANGELO PIZZO (wrote the screen play) : I knew we were going to cast real basketball players and not actors in the roles of the team members. So I wrote parts that were not heavy-lifting acting-wise for any of them, especially for Jimmy Chitwood. I wanted to make him all about behavior, all about action. I think he has two or three lines in the whole movie.

DAVID ANSPAUGH (Director): I would love to take credit for discovering Maris, but it was our casting director (Ken Carlson) and basketball coordinator who got a tip from one of the guys who auditioned. He said they should go to this church that had a league night with some good players. The next morning, they were waiting in the hotel lobby with these big grins on their faces, and one of them said, “I think we found your Jimmy Chitwood.”

MARIS VALAINIS (Jimmy Chitwood): The casting director (Ken Carlson) came to St. Luke’s to watch us play (pick-up game). At the end of the night, he came up to me and said, “Do you want to be in a movie?”

VALAINIS: We actually did the scene in one take, which was kind of remarkable. I think that was my first scene alone with Gene Hackman. It was getting dark, so they had to get the shot. I was nervous because I felt the pressure to get it done. Gene started his speech, but I wasn’t even listening to him. I was just concentrating on making baskets, and luckily I made a lot in a row. When I heard him finish his speech, I thought, Okay, the scene’s over—I’m done, then I missed the last shot. It was purely accidental. I just stopped concentrating because the speech was done.

VALAINIS: Right before we filmed the scene, the casting director (Ken Carlson) came up and said, “You’re not even looking at the basket when you shoot.” So I got the ball, and I was remembering what he had told me about looking at the basket. I looked at the basket and ended up hitting it on the first take. It felt like I had just won the state championship.