Champion Rewind Series - Barbe Tennis’s Steven Rice

Published: Jun. 16, 2023 at 6:36 PM CDT
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Lake Charles, LA (KPLC) - Barbe High School’s Steven Rice went undefeated this season, going 19-0 and becoming Louisiana’s 5A State Champion - the first in the school’s history.

“Going into it I did not know, I knew there weren’t many state winners but I figured there were at least one or two, obviously after, when I realized I was the first one, that was pretty exciting that I’m the first in school’s history to win it,” Rice said.

Rice is coached by his mother, Jill Rice, who was there every step of the way this season.

During the championship match, she felt every emotion.

“The stress of winning, I’m sure he felt it and I felt it also and I stepped back and I didn’t stand right there by the court to be his coach,” Head Coach Rice said. “I sat in the stands to be a mom, and there were moments you hold your breath and you lean over to try to keep the ball in and you’re just hoping with your fingers crossed.”

Their special bond allows Steven to be the best he can be.

“It’s good because I know we can relate a little more and she can talk to me,” Steven said. “Even if she has to be mean, she knows she can talk to me a little meaner to get it done so that works and I’ll probably listen to her more than any other person.”

Rice lost in the semifinals the past two years but this time he came out on top.

“It was a relief to finally get to the finals because they announce you in the finals and you get to play on the show court and I’ve always wanted to do that so it was just a relief,” Rice said.

The state champ had a mantra that carried him through the season.

“He had a coined phrase, “Here we go Barbe,” ever since he’s been here,” his mom said. “I mean you see it come out of him you just see the joy I don’t think there are even words to describe it, he did it.”

His family and friends played a major role in getting him to this point.

“They definitely helped because of how she was saying earlier in USTA (U.S Tennis Association) I’m by myself and we always travel to different states, so I have no one cheering for me, most of the time cheering against me,” Steven said. “So, finally having someone who is on my side where I know if I yell, I know they’re going to yell, too, so that just only motivates me and helps me.”

Steven plans on playing at the collegiate level and has one more year at Barbe where he will be defending his title next season.