By Bill Foley
Mollie Peoples registered and voted in her first presidential election Tuesday afternoon.
As it turns out, casting her first ballot wasn’t even the biggest decision the Butte Central senior made this week.
On Monday, Peoples signed an NAIA Letter of Intent to play for the Montana Tech women’s basketball team. She will join the team next fall.
Peoples said the decision to sign with the Orediggers was a fairly easy one.
“It really wasn’t that tough of a choice,” she said. “I knew for a while I was leaning toward Tech.”
The signing, which has not been announced by Montana Tech, comes a few weeks before Peoples and the Butte Central Maroons begin their Class A State title defense.
As a junior, Peoples averaged 14.8 points per game to help lead the Maroons to a 24-0 record. Along with teammate Emily St. John, Peoples was named co-MVP of the Southwestern A. She also took home All-State honors.
Peoples, who plans to major in nursing, attended a summer camp at Montana Tech and liked what she saw. She said a recent recruiting visit helped seal the deal for the Orediggers.
“I just really like the atmosphere,” she said. “I just really liked the coaches. The coaches are awesome.”
Peoples will become the third child of Barb and Don Peoples Jr. to become a college athlete. Her sister Quinn, an assistant coach on the 2015-16 state champion Maroons, recently completed a stellar career at Montana State University-Billings. Her brother Danny is a freshman backup quarterback at Montana Tech after initially walking on at the University of Montana.
MSU-Billings is a school Mollie Peoples also considered. She said her sister didn’t push her to her alma mater, though.
“My sister is supportive of what I wanted,” she said. “She didn’t push me to go anywhere. She said she wanted me to go to the school that would make me happy.”
Peoples’ oldest sister, Mairissa, was also on track to a college basketball career before she was sidelined with a battle with cancer following her sophomore season in 2007. Mairissa Peoples passed away in 2014, but not before she played a key role in Mollie’s basketball future.
With her father coaching the Maroons and her siblings all playing for BC and on traveling teams, the youngest Peoples was basically raised with a basketball in her hands.
“It has always been my escape,” Peoples said of basketball. “I grew up in gyms all around the state.”
Peoples, who maintains a 4.0 GPA, has also been a key player for the Maroons in volleyball and softball. As a junior she helped BC place third at the state volleyball tournament and second at the state softball tournament.
She is on pace to be a 12-time varsity letter winner for the Maroons.
Peoples said signing before the season begins will help her focus on BC defending its state title, something the Maroons haven’t done since 1982.
“I think it might have taken the pressure off somewhat,” Peoples said of signing. “I’m really looking forward to just playing my senior year all out.”
“I’m very excited. I’m really looking forward to it. I can’t wait to get back on the court.”