For most athletes, looking ahead is a no-no. The one-game-at-a-time mentality is standard fare, even at the recreation league level.
Fortunately for the John Carroll girls soccer team, Julie Malinowski never stopped looking ahead.
Let coach Joe Rehrmann explain:
"We encourage our players to list personal as well as team goals and try to work with them to achieve both," said Rehrmann, the Patriots' only coach since the program began eight years ago.
"Julie wanted to overtake Anne Marie Merrow as the all-time scorer and she had a good chance to do it, so it made sense to have a returning All-Metro player run at center half."
Malinowski agreed, but even then she had some doubts.
"I told Mr. Rehrmann before the season that, if he needed me to play back [at defender], I would," she said. "I thought it might be better for the team."
The Patriots (9-2-3) are tied for the top seed of the Catholic League Tournament with St. Mary's entering today's quarterfinal match against Seton Keough.
How they got there has been frustrating at times, but never more so, said Rehrmann, than at halftime earlier this season against St. Mary's when the Patriots trailed, 2-0.
"I could see the frustration in Julie's eyes," he said. "She was playing so hard and things just weren't working out for her and the team."
A change was in order and Rehrmann shifted Malinowski to striker.
"The coach is a slow learner," he said this week with a laugh.
Malinowski could score goals, but she wasn't getting the ball on the front line.
"Mr. Rehrmann came to me and said he wanted to move me back to sweeper, as I had offered before the season," said Malinowski. "I was ready to do whatever it took. I wanted to go out as a senior with another championship."
The last three games have been a joy, said Rehrmann.
"Julie just takes the opponent out of its offense from the sweeper position," he said. "She has the skill to clear the ball quickly, push it forward and distribute it well with accurate passes."
Even though the scoring is down, Malinowski still is tied for team leadership with sophomore Amity Torbit (nine goals). Carrie Stallings has eight goals and Katie Nietubicz has five.
Once the tournament wraps up next week -- the semifinals go Monday and the finals Wednesday at Patterson Park's Utz Twardowicz Stadium field -- Malinowski will be looking forward to more competition. She's one of two area players selected to the U.S. Eastern Regional Team. Kit Carson, a University of Arkansas freshman who played at Oakland Mills, is the other.
At Thanksgiving, Malinowski and Carson will be off to Dallas, competing for the national team pool. About 25 players will be chosen to the national A and B squads. Those selected will be playing in tournaments in San Diego next spring and make a European tour next summer. From that pool, the U.S. Olympic squad for 1992 will be chosen.
"I've been coming home from practice, doing my homework and running 4 miles to build stamina," said Malinowski. "I play club ball for the Bethesda Peppers on weekends and have regional team practice to attend. Basketball starts soon. I sleep a lot and don't have time for much else."
Except to visit colleges. Malinowski has visited Duke and the College of Boca Raton in Florida. She plans to visit Providence, Arkansas, New Hampshire and George Mason before deciding where to pursue soccer and a degree in special education.
The interest in special education comes naturally. Her sister, Christina, 20, is retarded.
"I've enjoyed working with my sister and want to continue as much as I can," she said, looking ahead, as always.