Norman's Emma Rice – Driven Athlete of the Month Presented by Landers Auto


By John Tranchina

As a senior, Emma Rice has grown into an important leadership role for the Norman soccer team, and the fact that the Tigers are enjoying an outstanding season makes her efforts even more valuable.

“Being on this high school team and going through the young stages, having leaders, having people to look up to,” Rice said, “it’s been really easy to step into that role and encourage younger players and be able to see the potential in them, because I know that was me. And I know I’ve had those people in my life who have pushed me to be better and I want to be that for those younger people.”

This season, with Norman moved into District 6A-4 and having to face several strong East-side schools, the Tigers are thriving with Rice as their leader, going 8-0 through April 12. Included among their impressive early-season wins was a big 1-0 victory over three-time defending 6A state champion Union on March 27 and a 1-0 triumph over perennial power Owasso on April 3.

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“We’re having a pretty incredible season, we all work so hard, we all are hungry to win every game,” Rice said. “I think it’s just now starting to hit us, that, ‘Wow, we’re really good and we can play with the top teams in the state.’ Our whole school is rallying behind us, like, ‘Oh my gosh, they’re state-bound.’ It does put a little pressure on each game, but I also think it makes it that much more exciting, having people come out and supporting us.”

Rice just exudes passion for the sport and it shows in her performance.

“I’ve been playing basically my whole life,” said Rice, who will continue playing soccer at the University of Science and Arts in Oklahoma (USAO) in Chickasha next year. “It’s always been something that I look forward to, to finish my day at practice or a game. I’ve just had a love for soccer ever since I was young.”

“Emma has always been a special talent,” added Norman coach Tyler Hardage. “From her freshman year, she has had an impact on every game she has played. She led our team in goals her sophomore and junior year and is well on her way to doing it again this year. She is a competitor and is driven to better herself at every practice and every game.”