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Gene ‘Moochie’ Britt: ‘I hope I set a good example’

There’s a banner that hangs in the corner of Loyd Star’s gym that reads “1968 BB State Champions” recognizing the first basketball state championship in Loyd Star’s history.

The person that hit two one-and-one free throws to ice the game against Myrtle was senior Gene “Moochie” Britt. He scored 38 points and grabbed 14 rebounds.

If you ask him, he should have scored 40 because he missed two free throws.

“We had two players move to Brookhaven that year, and we had our gym burned down,” Britt said. “We had to practice in Brookhaven’s old gym. We played 34 games on the road that year.”

Britt would leave Loyd Star and play a year of basketball at Mississippi State, Copiah Lincoln Community College, New Mexico State and West Alabama before finishing school. 

Britt said that he always knew coaching was in his blood, as his mom was a basketball coach. She was the first woman to win an overall state title.

“It’s a family thing with all of us,” Britt said. “I knew that it was something that I enjoyed doing, and it was a really good job.”

He knew without a shadow of a doubt that he wanted to impact kids and be around the game of basketball that had given him a lot.

Then he came home. He took over the Brookhaven Academy boys and girls basketball programs in 1963 winning multiple state championships with each, and an overall state title with each program. He won over 500 games with the Brookhaven Academy girls.

He said that his proudest moments were taking teams to the state championship tournaments and that he was able to coach boys and girls all-star teams in public and private schools, a feat likely no other coach has accomplished.

He moved to Loyd Star in 1996 to coach his alma mater and in 2010 he took the boy’s program to the Big House to play in the semifinals against Baldwyn.

“It was always my goal to come back to Loyd Star and coach basketball here,” Britt said. “I wanted to win a state championship here, but getting to the Coliseum was great.”

Almost 50 years after Britt hit the free throws to give Loyd Star its first basketball state championship and coming back to the school to coach for 22 years, Britt is calling it a career and hanging up the whistle.

Britt said that what drove him to keep coming back was the kids and the interaction that he was able to have with them.

“I hope that I was able to have them have good attitudes,” Britt said. “You learn a lot of things being coached and having discipline, and that’s what I wanted them to learn from me. I wanted them to learn life-lessons. I hope I set a good example for them.”

He had thought about retiring at times before, but he knew deep down he was meant to coach and to continue to mold the students that he came into contact with through a game that he had a deep passion for.

Britt was able to coach his sons Kyle and Russ while he was at Loyd Star and he said that was extremely special for him.

He’s going to miss the games, the preparation and the atmosphere around the program that he’s made his own over the last 22 years.

Britt said that he never really thought of coaching as work because he enjoyed everything about the job.

The old saying goes “If you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life.”

Gene “Moochie” Britt embodied that belief. He said his job gave him so much fulfillment because of the impact that he got to make on kids through a sport that he grew to love.

Coaching was a calling for Britt. His mother did it. His brothers did, and now his sons are coaches in the area.

“It happens to all of us at some point,” Lincoln County School district superintendent Mickey Myers said. “Coach Britt is a basketball legend in Lincoln County.  I will certainly miss seeing him on the sidelines.”

He has cattle and a farm that he’s going to tend to in retirement, but he hasn’t given much thought as to what retirement is going to look like.

He knows it’s going to be hard, however, watching someone else coach the Loyd Star boys and girls basketball programs, but he also knew it was time.

“I hope that the new coach keeps up the tradition,” Britt said. “Every year you’re not going to have the same amount of talent. They need to have a strong work-ethic, and have the kids learn that work ethic.”

Britt put 45 years into coaching basketball, baseball and football within Lincoln County, and he wouldn’t have had it any other way.

“When you’ve done something for 45 years, it’s just hard to give it up,” Britt said. “Some people at their jobs can’t wait to retire. I’m not like that. If you enjoy what you’re doing, and I did, it’s the best job you’ll ever have. It wasn’t really a job. It was fun. It’s been great. I have no regrets.”

Story by Collin Brister