BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) — Steve Carter was the kind of tennis coach who encouraged kids to dive for the ball, according to one former pupil. His former political colleagues describe him as similarly outgoing.
Carter, a former state representative who sought Baton Rouge’s mayorship last year, died of COVID-19 complications Tuesday. He was 77.
“He was a figure I looked up to,” LSU College Republicans president Ben Smith said in an interview Wednesday. “His passion for helping the future generations of this state was something that was present throughout his life.”
Carter became head coach of the LSU men’s tennis team in 1975, winning SEC Coach of the Year in 1976 and 1978. He was named the school’s assistant athletic director in 1987, then served as associate athletic director until 1995.
“Steve was a friend to everyone and spent his life helping others. He loved LSU and was devoted to bettering our community and our university,” LSU athletic director Scott Woodward said in a statement. “He will be missed but his impact will continue on through those who knew him and those who he served.”
Carter took his coaching to the Louisiana State Capitol, winning a state House seat in 2007.
“He was an electric person, and it was hard not to like him,” said Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin, who ran against Carter for the seat. “We ended up where we were supposed to be. The good lord always has it planned, and we don’t normally understand it, but it worked out well.”
“He was always competitive,” said state Sen. Franklin Foil, who previously served in the state House with Carter. “I think that goes back to his days of playing tennis and coaching tennis.”
But Foil and Ardoin recall a Republican willing to step over partisan nets — particularly on education and infrastructure matters.
“He was very passionate about TOPS, to give kids a chance to get that higher education opportunity,” Foil said.
“I still think he had a lot left to give,” Ardoin said.
Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome, who faced Carter in a December runoff, echoed Foil’s and Ardoin’s sentiment Wednesday.
“He was a committed and loved public servant,” Broome told reporters at a road groundbreaking event. “He will be missed.”
Gov. John Bel Edwards has ordered flags flown at half-staff on the day of Carter’s funeral.