I’ve waited several days trying to find the right words to say about the legacy of Gerald Snider. Just about every possible positive remark that could be made has already been expressed across all forms of social media. Hundreds of former players and current coaches took to Twitter and Facebook to pay respects to how Gerald changed or touched their lives.
Most people know that Gerald and I were traveling partners and basketball buddies. We spent countless hours and miles covering hoops for Mississippi. We joined up several years ago because we always seemed to end up in the same gyms and we only lived about 10 miles apart at the time. This helped cut expenses for us both and also provided company on the late night trips back home from games. Most of the time we “argued” or debated over teams and players. We fought like brothers about 90% of the time as we continually discussed everything in the hoops world. But at the end of the day we would always seem to find something we agreed on. We would break each game or tournament down every time on the way home talking about the good, bad and everything in between. We would talk at least two times daily when we didn’t travel together. We would talk every morning about what we saw the previous night if we covered separate games. We planned around what each one of us would see trying to make sure we saw the most amount of players and teams as possible. We would talk in the afternoon to make sure our plans were in motion. In traveling together, it also gave me the opportunity to listen to some of the best basketball stories from many years behind him. He was full of great stories of who and what he had seen over the years.
I can go all the way back to the mid ’90’s to when Mr. Gerald would come watch our games and practices when I played high school ball. My first time actually talking to him was in 1997 at the state championship. I went up to him and asked him advice on how he became what he was. During that time, he was like a superstar in the basketball world. His camps were premier and his one one of the hottest people in the country. He helped start the scouting business and pave the way for people like me, Shoes and many others.
I can think of hundreds of times we went into gyms across the South and someone walked up and said they participated in one of his camps and he helped them get into college. There was not one single gym that we went into that he didn’t say, “Let me introduce you to such and such.” He knew people everywhere.
It is also a running joke that if you can’t find him then go to the hospitality room. He was no stranger to getting free meals. In fact, the first two things he would say when walking into gyms would be “I need a chair” and “Which way is the hospitality room?” He could break down which events had the best food with the best of them.
Gerald was also like having your own personal map with you. He knew every back road and two lane highway that lead to every gym not only in the Mississippi but several other states. Most people don’t realize that he also covered Alabama, Louisiana, Arkansas, Tennessee and Georgia in his early years. He recently dropped Georgia from his coverage to concentrate more on the states that bordered Mississippi. He knew how to get to almost every gym in every one of these states. He also knew how to get to the best hidden restaurant in every town too. He was also a BBQ expert. He could list the best in each state. I can easily remember, “Let me tell you about this place. They got Ba B Q.” He didn’t care to go hundreds of miles out of the way to get the best
Gerald was a staple at the MHSAA state tournament for well over 30 years. He also watched the Alabama, Tennessee and Louisiana state tournament every year too. That’s a dream catching that much high level basketball in a 3 or 4 week span and he did it every year for 30 plus years.
Here are some more facts that most people didn’t know about Gerald Snider. He lived his life to the absolute fullest. He was a staple at the SEC baseball tournament every year. He also went to Omaha just about every single year to watch the NCAA baseball championships. He traveled to almost every single MLB stadium in the country. There was only just a hand full, including newly built stadiums, that he hadn’t been to yet. He just flat out loved going to games. He traveled across Mississippi to watch football games too. He wanted to see the better players in the state every year. There is no telling to how many college basketball venues he’s been to in the country. Way too many to count. He had friends at just about every school so he would go visit and catch games there. He went to nearly 30 Final Fours and national championship games. Just catching one would be a dream for most people.
You see all the student athletes that he has helped all over the place. There are countless kids that he’s helped reach the next level. Another thing that most people don’t realize is that he has helped way beyond student athletes. He also helped managers and coaches too. He helped place hundreds of basketball managers at schools for the ones that wasn’t good enough to play at that level but still wanted to be around the team. He has helped many a coaches land jobs with his support or word of recommendation. I personally heard many a calls with AD’s and coaches on all levels where he was recommending a coach for them to hire. That’s some of the behind the scenes stuff that most coaches don’t realize he did for them.
I was a beneficiary for this help too. He started pushing me and my son last year when he was a manager at Northeast. He told him to get a top 5 school list that he wanted to go to at the next level. We were like no way, it’s way to early to be thinking about that because he had a full year to go before that happened. Gerald reached out to his top 5 and the contact began with his top couple high major schools. Turns out one had a spot open and he ended up going early. I could’ve managed to create the same outcome but Gerald pushed us along and made sure we got it done early.
Mr. Gerald cherished his parents and I’m sure he’s reunited with them again. They started his love for going to games. He had endless stories of watching games with them. I know exactly what was said once he crossed the pearly gates, “I need a chair and which way is the hospitality room.” I know Gerald always had sleepers for coaches but I think most coaches are starting to realize that he was the true sleeper.
Per request of Mr. Gerald, there were no services performed. There will be a memorial at a later date and he will be inducted into the NEMBCA Hall of Fame this Saturday, June 8th at Booneville High School before the All-Star games. First game is set to begin at 1:00.