Marcus Still endured some hard decisions as his senior year began last fall. He had some easy ones, too.
All in all he closed out a solid athletic career at Queen Creek High School headed toward baseball at the next level this fall. Driving his success in all his athletic endeavors is that one attribute coaches can't teach -- speed.
"Baseball is the big thing for me," Still said. "Speed is my game. I use my speed to get on a lot, and if that's the main way I can help my team win, that's what I'll do."
Still gets to showcase his skills in the prep ranks one more time on Sunday (June 1) when he competes for the South in the Division II Arizona Baseball Coaches Association All-Star game at Surprise Stadium at 4 p.m. Still steps up to the next level this fall, heading for a baseball career at Loyola Marymount. Queen Creek teammates Chase Beal and Ryan Kottkamp join Still on the South roster.
Still enjoyed a four-year varsity stint in baseball for coach Mike Campbell. He also played football for three seasons and made time for track three years while playing baseball. He looked forward to football, which he played as a freshman and sophomore and junior on varsity. When the time came for football last August, Still passed. It was a grueling decision.
"I've always loved football and we'd won the championship the year before so it was hard to not play," Still said. "But it was what was best for my future. It hurt to not play, and I regret it some."
Still recalls watching Queen Creek trot on the field for its first football game in late August 2013.
"I had a sick feeling in my stomach," he said. "I wanted to be out there, but knew I had to make the decision I made."
Still rushed for 867 yards and 11 touchdowns in Queen Creek's 2012 title season. He backed up and worked in tandem with standout Matt Guida. With Guida fighting off injuries this past season, Still likely would have continued to make a splash with Guida and another speedster that emerged, Weston Barlow.
Sticking with baseball has always been a no-brainer for Still. He's the equivalent of a Lou Brock when he gets on base. An intimidator with his speed and his success in stealing bases. In four varsity seasons, Still attempted 80 steal and was successful 72 times (90 percent). He saved his best thievery for his senior year swiping 32 bases in 34 attempts. He now holds the school record for stolen bases and triples. He finished with a career batting average of .375.
"It was a tough pill to swallow not seeing him play football," Campbell said. "He missed out on the cross training of the sports. But it was his decision. He managed to keep busy running track. We supported him in his decisions."
Still was indeed busy this spring competing in baseball and track and opting for an expanded presence in the latter. He made a more concerted effort to compete in the 100 and 200 in addition to the 4x100 relay as a sophomore and junior. The dual commitment made for long days.
"It's something he approached me about doing before the season," Campbell said. "We talked about it, and he put in the time for both. He wasn't cut any slack for the commitment to both."
To make the dual participation work, Still put in track workouts with coach Roger Suchomel before school. He took part in baseball in the afternoon. On days baseball had a less-tedious practice slate, he was allowed to leave early and work on technical phases and with the relay team. There were times he was able to play a baseball game and join the track team later the same day to compete in an invitational.
"I had to get up early," Still said. "Practiced at 6:30 in the morning. It worked out. I put more time in to track this year than I had before. But I enjoyed it."
Still won his heat at the Divisioin II state meet in the 100 and went on to place sixth. He also qualified in the 200 and finished eighth to score a few points for the Bulldogs. The 4x100 relay team did not place. It did, Still said, when he was a sophomore.
"I'm happy with the decisions I made this year," Still said. "It took a lot of time, but I think it was worth it. I'll be off to Loyola Marymount. Hopefully play center field, maybe second base and bat leadoff. We'll see. I'm looking forward to the opportunity."