Though more records are broken every day, and there’s enough talent and success in the area to focus on today, it’s hard not to live in the luxurious past of Kokomo sports. Nostalgia often takes over, and for 1996 Kokomo graduate and filmmaker Sam Flynn, the success of the Kokomo LadyKats in the ‘90s was worth another look.
That’s why Flynn brought a team home to Kokomo from Los Angeles to revisit the glory days, and is working on a documentary examining a golden age of Kokomo women’s basketball. Flynn is a 20-year military man, serving in the Air Force from 1998 to 2018, and was last stationed in LA.
During his service, Flynn found he really enjoyed doing stand-up comedy, and pursued it in and out of the service for the last 10 years. After retiring from the Air Force, Flynn’s degree was in human resources, but after a taste of working in entertainment, he didn’t want an office job. Still in LA, he saw an advertisement for film school and decided to dive in. There, he met sound engineer Raul Britez and cinematographer Maya Riquelme, and the trio has worked on several projects. When Flynn conjured up the idea for the documentary, he said he knew whom to call.
“I was working on an independent-type film, and then the pandemic hit and everything kind of shut down. During that time, I was writing different things and I saw an interview about the Northwestern championship team,” Flynn said. “I just started doing more research, looking back on the 1992 LadyKats, you know, I lived through that. I kind of wrote an inspired-by script on that. It just started flowing, so I called Maya and was like, ‘Hey, is this anything or is this just the fan in me?’”
Riquelme loved the idea. As LA began to open back up, Flynn went to visit with an old instructor from film school, planning to bounce ideas off him about his soon-to-be new project.
The two met for dinner, and Flynn’s teacher simply said, “Get back to Indiana and make this story happen.”
The documentary features the core of the 1992-93 state championship teams for Kokomo, who mostly graduated in 1993. Flynn said that time in history for Kokomo was not only a glorious one on the court, but the impact and the attention the success created for women’s basketball in the area can’t be understated.
“I think one thing was just how it opened doors for girls’ sports. In Kokomo in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, what you did Friday night was you went to Memorial Gym and watched the boys. If you weren’t there, you were listening to Greg Bell on the radio,” he said. “The girls were at the south campus. They didn’t play at Memorial Gym. And all the sudden, these girls, they just electrified the city. They were blowing everybody out. They had these personalities, and they were just different.”
The south campus, just a small gym, couldn’t hold the fans, Flynn said. So next thing he knows, there is standing room only at Memorial Gym trying to see the girls play. The team was dominating, building a culture and setting off a trend for greatness in women’s sports in the area.
There wasn’t anything like it before in Flynn’s life, he said. It was infectious, and it spread to the minds of others who maybe wouldn’t have paid attention to girls’ sports beforehand.
The documentary setup begins from the loss at semi-state in 1990-91 through the state championship in 1992 and 1993. Flynn and his team have interviewed every player from the legendary team, and recorded in-depth interviews about their personal lives, what drove them to be champions, the state of basketball in the ‘90s, and other fun facts only found in the documentary.
Flynn said the plan is to have something for Kokomo High School by March for the anniversary, but a full cut will be released later in 2022 for the public. Kokomo is a wonderful community for girls’ basketball and basketball as a whole, he said, and he wanted to highlight one of the brightest times of the program’s history once again.
“I think if people watch this documentary, maybe they will be more interested. Hopefully, you know, some of these younger girls that are playing sports will see it and be like, ‘Wow, I can do that.’ Because there are multiple hall-of-famers in there, so there’s a lot of stuff for people to look at,” Flynn said.
After a lengthy time away from Indiana, expanding his horizons outside of the country and on the other side of it, Flynn admitted it’s been fun to have a homecoming. He said he has enjoyed bringing Riquelme and Britez with him and explaining to them the real hype behind these Kokomo basketball legends. Both are from Paraguay, a long way from Kokomo.
“The hype is legit. People still love these girls. It was great being home, and it was great having the opportunity to come home and do something that I love doing and sharing it with everybody,” Flynn said.