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Jerry and Pat Smith watch intently as the Minden High Crimson Tide basketball team make a play during the Gibsland Bank & Trust-Minden Press Herald Holiday Classic tournament. The couple has been attending the Classic since its inception.

 

A Minden couple has been faithful to Minden High’s basketball teams since before the Holiday Classic began, but they have certainly attended almost every game possible since its inception.

Jerry and Pat Smith say they enjoy going to the games and watching the athletes play.

“We’ve always liked basketball,” Pat Smith, 72, said. “We’ve been going for years and years. We just enjoy watching it. We started going when it was in the old gym. That’s been a long time.”

While they enjoy going to the games, it’s also about visiting with friends who are regular attendees of the basketball games as well.

“I like it when you get to know the players, get involved with them,” Jerry Smith said. “That makes the game more exciting.”

“We enjoy the people, and the kids are just so nice to us,” Pat Smith said.

Many times when the Smiths will appear at a game, the kids will open doors for them and help them get to their seats in the gym.

“They know where we sit, and if they happen to see us coming in, they jump up and run,” she said. “The kids are really nice to us, they really are. They help us out when we come up there. Everybody knows us because we go all the time.”

Pat Smith suffered a stroke in the early 1990s, which left her paralyzed on the left side and in a wheelchair. She is able to stand and walk to some degree, but her husband of 43 years cares for her on a daily basis.

“I tell everybody he’s my left side,” she said, laughing. “He does help me a lot. Sometimes I don’t know what I’d do without him.”

The couple also goes to Lakeside and Doyline to watch the Warriors and Panthers play.

Jerry Smith, 75, a retired sales manager from Sanitary Dairy, said he played a little basketball in high school at Gibsland-Coleman High School, but neither was athletic during their high school years.

“I grew up in a small town, and basketball and baseball is about all we had,” Jerry Smith said. “I’ve always been a basketball fan. I’ve been to a lot of games since high school. I really started going to games in Minden since the early 90s, and have been going pretty steady ever since.”

Pat Smith never played basketball but was a member of Minden High’s pep squad.

A native of Minden, Pat Smith is a 1960 graduate of Minden High School. She retired from the Louisiana
Army Ammunition Plant after approximately 40 years.

The couple are members of Antioch Baptist Church in Dixie Inn and have been since the mid-1980s. They attended Beech Springs Baptist Church for 17 years before that.

During the off-season, the couple will travel, go camping and to dirt track races. Jerry Smith said sometimes they traveled as far as Mississippi, Texas and Arkansas to see a dirt track race. His favorite class is the late models.

His favorite hobby is visiting with people. He said he rarely ever meets a stranger.

The couple has attended this year’s Holiday Classic every night since Wednesday.

The Holiday Classic is a tournament fundraiser for Minden High’s basketball program for both the boys’ and the girls’ teams. The funds raised from the tournament go to pay travel expenses as well as referees for the games.