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Family comes first: Fort Dorchester coach's daughter plays for rival Stratford


Donna Claire Still plays softball at Stratford and her father Joey Still is an assistant football coach at Fort Dorchester. Provided photo

As a teacher and assistant football coach at Fort Dorchester High School, Joey Still is an all-out supporter of any Patriots team in any sport. Except when blood trumps school colors.

While Still loves the softball program at Fort Dorchester  and thinks the world of coach Lindsey LaPrad, he found himself a bit torn recently when the Patriots took on the Stratford Knights in a non-region matchup last week.

The reason? Still’s daughter, Donna Claire Still, is the starting first baseman for Stratford’s varsity team. In the bottom of the eighth inning, it was DC (as her friends and family know her) who delivered the game-winning RBI double.

“It’s very tough watching my daughter play against the school I love, but tonight I am one proud dad,” Still tweeted on Friday night. “Just an eighth-grader doing her thing!”

Susan Still, DC's mom, attended Stratford and grew up in the area. Joey Still, a former assistant at Berkeley, had head coaching stints at Barnwell and Green Sea Floyds before he and his family returned to the area and moved into the Stratford attendance area in Crowfield Plantation. Still spent a season as an assistant at Woodland before getting hired at Fort Dorchester.

As his daughter’s talents as a softball player began to take shape, there was consideration given to her playing at Fort Dorchester. In the end, the decision to matriculate into the Stratford program was made. DC made the junior varsity team as a seventh-grader and was promoted to the varsity team this spring.

“DC loves Lindsey and spent a lot of time around here while growing up,” Still said. “Lindsey gave her a hug after the game. Both are just competitive people. Both of them wanted to win and I love that about both of them.”

In the moment, DC didn’t think much about who she just beat with her game-winning hit. Afterwards it sunk in. She says the relationship with LaPrad is one of fun and respect.

“It will always be a memorable experience because it helped us win the game,” she said. “I have learned so much from coach and she has helped me become a better player. We’re both competitive.”

DC has big aspirations as a softball player. She hopes to one day be remembered the way another former first baseman at Stratford is remembered, her idol Justin Smoak.

Smoak, who played baseball at Stratford and is a current member of the Milwaukee Brewers, is a lifelong friend of Susan Still. It was Smoak who sent DC a text when he learned that she had made the varsity team this spring.

“I still have the text message and I will keep it forever,” DC said. “I idolize him, the way he plays and works to be the best he can be. We’re not like super close or anything but it meant a lot to get a text from him congratulating me. He’s a good guy.”

With the current high school season on hold due to the coronavirus outbreak, Still is hoping that her first varsity season is not over. She realizes she has four more seasons ahead of her but hurts for her senior teammates.

“I really hope we can play again this year,” she said. “I love this team and I am super excited to see what’s ahead for us. I just want to be out there playing again. We all do.”

The spring sports season is suspended until April 2. The Executive Committee of the S.C. High School League will meet then to determine if and when the teams will resume play.

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