Local man plays basketball in U.K.

Published 11:47 pm Wednesday, June 9, 2010

NATCHEZ — Randy Smith may be retired, but that hasn’t stopped him from staying active.

Smith, who owns Texada along with his wife Helen, enjoys playing basketball in his free time — so much so, that he’s willing to do it overseas.

Smith recently competed in the ages 50 and over British Master’s Championship in Sheffield, England, in May. His Louisiana team won the championship for the second time in three years, defeating Edinburgh 63-44 May 23.

“We play in the USA Basketball program in cities like Miami, Orlando and Chicago, and I kind of recruit (my teammates) from there,” Smith said.

“Teams from Ireland, Wales, England and Scotland play in the tournament, and they always invite one American team each year. It’s always been (my team) because they know me and have been kind to me.”

Smith’s team went undefeated, and it marks the fifth time overall his team has won the tournament. Three of those victories came in the 40 and over division, and two in the 50 and over, Smith said.

In addition to playing basketball, Smith and his team always take time to tour Europe, both before and after tournament play.

“When I recruit a guy, I always tell them we’re taking a trip to Europe. When we go to London, no matter what, we spend three days seeing plays, Wimbledon and whatever else there is to do,” he said.

And London wasn’t the only place the team went sight seeing last month.

“This year, we left London after the championships and went to Paris, then rented a car and drove to Normandy beach to see where D-Day happened. It’s pretty impressive. It was overcast and rainy this year, kind of like it was on D-Day,” Smith said.

Basketball is something that’s been with Smith his whole life, he said, and his journey to many parts of the world is what led him to the British Master’s Championship.

“I grew up in Natchez, played basketball at Natchez High and graduated in 1968. Then I played at Co-Lin, and from there went to Delta State,” Smith said.

“I graduated with a degree in teaching and coaching, but I decided it didn’t pay enough, so through a brother I went into the oil business. I went to Iran first, and then Scotland, and I started playing league ball while I was in Scotland.

“I kept in touch with my Scottish friends over the years, and when we got to be 40 years old, we got started in the British Masters Championship.”

In addition to basketball, Smith said he also likes to play softball through a prison ministry he’s involved in.

“I’m always looking for softball and basketball players that are over 50. I retired to play softball in prison and basketball in England. All my friends think I’m crazy, but that’s OK,” Smith said.

Smith is the only player from Natchez on his British Master’s team, and he said he hopes that will change in the future.

“If anyone wants to play, please call me,” he said.