Lions begin diamond season with jewel of a supporter on their minds


By Kyle Mooty

LPR Editor

San Juan Arias’ first season with the Lockhart Lions began this week following a four-year stint at Nixon-Smiley. He will coach his squad for the first time without the watchful eyes of his biggest supporter, his daughter, Rhea.

Rhea Jaide Arias, 13, passed away on Nov. 15, 2022, following complications she had lived with since she was 2 when she had been in a car accident along with her mother, Amy, and her grandmother. Rhea’s spinal cord was severed in the accident.

Despite being wheelchair-bound and paralyzed, Rhea loved playing softball and keeping up with her “Dad.”

“She loved to play,” Coach Arias said. “She was involved in baseball when we lived in La Vernia. That was her thing to do. She realized she was not in this by herself, playing with other kids that had different things. And ahe was my biggest supporter. I’d come home and she’d say, ‘How was practice, Dad,’ or ‘How’d your day go, Dad?’”

Arias was hired by LISD in June 2022.

In her obituary, Rhea was called a “sassy princess.”

“We can see her now running those bases to home plate by foot as her grandparents and her great grandparents and numerous aunts and uncles cheer her on,” read the obituary. She “enjoyed sunbathing, racing her brother outside, and cheering on her big brother at baseball games. She also played softball, watching Food Network shows and cartoons such as Miraculous and Scooby Doo, and loved singing and jamming out every day to Taylor Swift and Dixie Chicks songs.

“Rhea had a zest for life. Her smile was infectious and lit up any room she entered. She changed so many lives in her short time here. She was our fierce warrior that never gave up or made excuses. Always praising God. You are forever loved a million and a day our sweet baby girl.”

An 8th grader at La Vernia Junior High, Rhea has two brothers, Xavier and Dax.

“We have had great response from the community,” Coach Arias said. “It’s amazing that the community has known us for such a short time, yet we got all of these calls and donations for her service. I feel very blessed.”

There will be a sticker with her initial on the players helmets and patches will be on the sleeves.

The school has provided helmet stickers recognizing Rhea, and the Lockhart Baseball Alumni Association provided embroidered uniform patches – courtesy a donation from Nostalgic Rags and Jeff Hammett.

Christian Cisneros, chairman of the Lockhart baseball alumni Association, said, “We support the Lockhart baseball program anyway we can. We just want to help the baseball program if they need anything, and the booster club can’t help them. We’ll try to find a way.”

Jacob Mendez is the board president of the Lockhart Alumni Baseball Association.

“We started the program about four years ago but because of Covid, we really wanted to ramp it up this year,” Cisneros said. “We raised money and got equipment. We knew they were doing a decal for the helmets, but we wanted to get a 2-inch patch with her initials in a black circle.

“We want to support (Coach Arias) because he’s been a real supporter of us. When you talk to him, he’s what you imagine a head baseball coach to sound like.”

The Lockhart Baseball Alumni Association (LBAA) is a non-profit 501(c)3 organization that was created to support amateur baseball activities in the geographic area of the Lockhart Independent School District. The LBAA’s funds will be used to support educational advancement and equipment needs of the LHS Baseball Program and all other local organizations that funnel players into the LHS Baseball Program, as well as promote alumni and community engagement into said programs.


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