Molly Moffitt’s hard work academically will result in a diploma from Seattle Prep on Thursday.
Moffitt’s hard work athletically earned her an airline ticket on Friday.
Even as her Seattle Prep basketball teammates prepare to chase a Metro League title, Moffitt and her mother will board an airplane bound for Ireland, where Moffitt’s summer plans are to compete for the Irish girls U-20 national team.
“Why not do something crazy, right?” Moffitt said. “My grandmother was born in Galway. I’m a citizen of Ireland by descendancy. I’m super excited.”
What Moffitt doesn’t have yet is an Irish passport. That is being worked on, even as she flies east to join 17 other 18- and 19-year-old women on Ireland’s U-20 roster, which includes a few other Americans.
The goal is to have that passport in hand, formalizing her dual citizenship, before the next big tournament for the U-20 team — the FIBA U19 World Basketball Cup on July 3-11.
Thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, the tournament had several potential host countries, including Hungary and Italy. The event, formerly known European Challenge, is scheduled to be held in Latvia.
This opportunity came from her mother, Jane, who suggested Moffitt contact Irish coach Martin Conroy early this year. At the time, with the pandemic still threatening to keep basketball from happening in Seattle, and Moffitt still looking for a place to land in college come the fall, the 6-foot-1 forward didn’t know when she’d see a basketball floor next.
“My mom just told me, ‘Why don’t you reach out?’” Moffitt said. “It’s not too late to get seen and recruited. It’s an opportunity to get away, be in a different environment.”
“This did kind of come out of nowhere,” Seattle Prep coach Brian Elsner said. “I think it was February or March when she first mentioned it to me. At first, I thought she might miss the whole spring season. And we have a pretty good team.”
As it turned out, the timing has worked better than that. Moffitt played the entire regular season. She averaged 17 points and nine rebounds a game for a Panthers team that enters the only playoffs they have this year, the Metro Tournament, undefeated.
A couple of weeks ago, she even scored her 1,000th point at Seattle Prep, joining fellow senior Tamia Stricklin in that club. Stricklin accomplished the feat just one game earlier.
“Molly’s been a varsity player, a starter, her whole four years,” Elsner said. “And she works as hard as any kid I’ve ever coached. She’s become an elite rebounder. And this year, she’s become more skilled, taken another step up with her shooting becoming more consistent. And that’s saying something.”
Moffitt was a first-team all-Metro selection a year ago and should be again this spring. She just won’t be available for the three games of the Metro tournament.
“We’ve had to kind of separate from that,” Elsner said. “It’s such a great opportunity for her. We have to support her.”
Elsner knows that Moffitt will be great with her new group, too.
“She has such a loving spirit,” Elsner said. “Kids just want to be around her.”
Moffitt won Seattle Prep’s Jill Curran Inspiration Award this year. She helped the Panthers basketball team to a 12-0 regular season and competed with the Seattle Prep girls lacrosse team.
But with no state playoffs, international competition beckons.
“More than half the fun is playing the postseason,” Moffitt said. “Being with the team, in the Tacoma Dome (a place Seattle Prep reached all three years they could with Moffitt and Strickland). And we don’t get that.
“I have gotten to play with my sister, Megan, who’s a freshman this year. She’s my best friend. So there definitely are some really good parts. And of course I want to stay and try to win a Metro title. Our team is awesome and I love them very, very much. But we’ll keep in touch. They are going to send me updates, and I will do the same.”
Among the updates Moffitt looks forward to is that Irish passport, which she will need in order to play in Latvia. If she hasn’t yet gotten it by tournament time, though, she still will have had a month of competing, practicing and getting to know a new group of people in a new environment. That experience in itself will pay dividends moving forward, Moffitt figures.
“There’s no place I’d rather be than in a gym,” Moffitt said. “I push myself very hard. When you work hard, good things happen. I’m starting to see that, though it’s definitely been slow.”
Maybe the slowest has been where Moffitt’s next stop will be. She still has no college landing spot, something she hopes this Irish experience will help remedy.
There are options, even if no scholarship comes. Moffitt has been accepted to several schools.
She could try to walk on. She could take a gap year and attend one of two academies she’s looking at, in Connecticut or Massachusetts.
It’s even possible her Irish experience could extend beyond the summer, Moffitt said, into as long as 18 months.
“I’m young,” the 18-year-old said. “I don’t have to decide anything yet. If you want something bad enough, there’s always a way. It’s so funny. I’m the person that likes to always know what’s going on, have things in line. That’s just not what’s going on this year. So here I am, getting on a plane to go to Ireland.”