When Luke Peoples scored late in last week’s 49-13 Muscle Shoals win over Decatur, it was the latest good moment in a family tradition of athletics that dates back half a century.
That tradition started with a man who is routinely in the stands on Fridays these days — Luke’s grandfather, Michael Tice.
A 1968 Hamilton graduate, Tice played quarterback for the Aggies — as did his son, Chad, and son-in-law, Scotty Peoples.
Three grandsons have also been quarterbacks — Tyce Thomas played for Brooks before graduating in 2016; Abram Peoples graduated last year after playing at Muscle Shoals; and Luke Peoples is a backup quarterback on the current Trojan team.
A former football coach at several schools and basketball coach at Northwest Shoals C.C. who led the Northwest women and men to the national tournament, Tice in recent years has been on the sidelines enjoying the second generation after him perform.
“I guess you can have mixed emotions. You seem them and you’re proud of them,” Tice said. “You’re always worried about the injuries. (But) the playing part, you really enjoy watching them be successful.”
Not just a football family
The Tice family athletic tradition is not limited to football or to the boys — not even close.
Tice’s two daughters — Tonya Peoples and Amanda Thomas — carried on that athletic tradition themselves before passing it along to their kids.
Peoples played varsity basketball for Phil Campbell starting in seventh grade and followed her dad to his jobs at Pell City and Hamilton, transferring before her freshman and juniors seasons. In 1991 at Hamilton, she was named Miss Basketball and went on to Auburn before finishing her playing career at Alabama.
Thomas acknowledged without prompting she was not the star her sister was but more of a complementary “asset” to the team. She played basketball at Hamilton (class of ’95) and then at Northwest Shoals, where she played for her dad.
“He certainly did not take it easy on me,” she said, and she remembers an awkward moment here or there when the team got chewed out and she knew her teammates were probably frustrated with her dad but reined in negative comments.
“They were trying to be respectful, too, because they knew that was my dad,” she said, saying she and her teammates enjoyed playing for him. “Everybody had a good time.”
After Tice finished high school, he played baseball at Northwest Shoals and at South Alabama. In 1972, Tice pitched against Florida State and Virginia as South Alabama fell one round short of a trip to Omaha for the College World Series. They had beaten Ole Miss nine straight times but lost to the Rebels in the regional round (this was before the Super Regionals were created).
“I was fortunate. I had a pretty good curveball,” Tice said of playing baseball. “And I probably pitched against some guys that couldn’t hit,” he said with a laugh.
Tice got into coaching quickly, taking his first job as the football coach at North Sand Mountain. He eventually coached football at Loretto, Haleyville, Phil Campbell and Pell City before shifting to coach basketball at Northwest Shoals, where he worked about 15 years.
He led Northwest’s women to the national tournament in the mid-1990s and the men to the national tournament in the early 2000s.
“I think coaching is a great profession if you do it right,” he said. “If you love the kids and want to see them successful and put your heart and soul in it, it’s so rewarding.”
Tice keeps up with former players who are coaching basketball, like Brian Pounders at Deshler and Justin Taylor at West Limestone, and also those who are doing other things. He said Kelly Kiser, who played quarterback for him at Phil Campbell, calls routinely, and he also keeps up with Ryan Swinney, who played tight end for the Bobcats and later coached them.
When he runs into former players in the community, he enjoys getting a hug and exchanging “I love you.”
“It makes you feel real good when you’ve had a positive influence in somebody’s life,” he said.
Peoples stayed at Alabama as a grad assistant after playing and eventually was promoted to assistant coach. She had decided she wanted to coach after Alabama assistant Dottie Kelso died in Sept. 1993.
“She was able to have that (influence) on me because of being my coach,” Peoples said. “She was really, really strong in her faith.”
Peoples coached girls basketball at Mountain Brook, Hamilton, Gadsden, Florence and Oxford.
Tice said his daughter was an extremely dedicated athlete and when it was time to coach “she handled that well, too. She did a great job.”
Peoples stepped away from coaching as her younger son, Luke, got more involved in extracurricular activities. Her older son, Abram, preceded Luke as a high school quarterback.
Now both Amanda’s and Tonya’s families are together in the Shoals. Tonya’s husband Scotty is a quarterback coach at Muscle Shoals, where Luke plays. Though Amanda’s son Tyce played for Brooks, her ninth-grade twins Emma and Ella are in the Muscle Shoals band and eighth-grade daughter Mia is a Trojans cheerleader.
“It’s just always been a part of our life,” Tonya said, in regard to sports.
Tice’s late wife, Sandy, died in 2000 and he regrets that she has not gotten to see the family’s more recent athletic success.
But he remains a regular attendee of his grandsons’ games and enjoys it each time.
“It’s been all positive,” Tice said. “It’s been really wonderful. It’s just a blessing from God.”