APPRECIATION: READERS VOICE BEST ATHLETE GREG SMITH (1971-2011)
To have known Greg Smith is to have experienced joy in its purest form. No matter where he went or what he did, Smith always had a smile on his face and an infectious generosity of spirit. As an athlete, Smith — who was voted best local gay athlete in this year’s vote — was extremely competitive (he always played to win), but knew that in the end it was only a game. He exemplified good sportsmanship by never resorting to negativity in his pursuit of the goal. As his drag alter-ego, SheGotta Mustache, Smith became known for a razor wit and the ability to ad-lib as well as, if not better than, professional comedians.
Whether he was in a softball uniform or a dress and high heels, Smith’s goal was to always motivate people through humor and positivity.
His athletic endeavors in the gay community began in 1993 when he joined the Pegasus Slowpitch Softball Association; he was inducted into the PSSA Hall of Fame in 2004. In 2007, he was honored with three separate awards, receiving Player of the Year–B Division for the Woody’s team; Coach of the Year–C Division for the Evolution team; and the PEGI award for Outstanding Service to PSSA. Over 18 years, he participated in 16 Softball World Series. In addition to softball, Smith’s imagination was captured by sports as diverse as baseball, bowling and volleyball, which he played for 10 years with the Dallas Independent Volleyball Association; last year, he received one of his final awards, the Rauhman Browning Award for Outstanding Service to DIVA.
As SheGotta, Smith helped raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for various charities and organizations, including his beloved PSSA and DIVA. Little could stop him from getting onstage to entertain for a good cause. One month after his second leg surgery — just seven weeks before he passed away— SheGotta was back in full makeup and wig performing, at a benefit for breast cancer.
His husband of nearly five years, Russ Rhoades, shared many epigrams that Smith lived his life by, including one that applied to his entire life: “We shall never know all the good that a simple smile can do” (Mother Teresa); and one that seemed to guide his sportsmanship: “The difference between the impossible and the possible lies in a person’s determination” (Tommy Lasorda).
“Even at the end, his body gave out before his spirit did,” Rhoades says. “He was and will continue to be an inspiration to many of his beloved friends and family.”
Somewhere he is surely thrilled to receive this final tribute, quite possibly doing the splits in celebration.
— Steven Lindsey
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition March 16, 2012.