Until recently, Amanda Williams never thought of herself as much of an athlete.
The Hammond senior said her brother, Chris, 22, and a student at West Virginia State College, was the athlete in the family. "It was always one of those stereotypical things -- Chris was the athlete and I was always the smart one," said Williams, 16.
Today, she's still the smart one with a 3.47 grade-point average and hopes of studying pre-med at Harvard next year. But now Williams also could stake a claim as the athletic one, too.
Although she dabbled in soccer as an 8-year-old before asthma sidelined her, Williams didn't find her niche until high school. As a freshman, she joined some friends trying out for the lacrosse team. Those same friends lured her to field hockey the next fall.
Now Williams stands out as the Golden Bears' star back. The asthma doesn't bother her as much anymore.
Anchoring a strong right side, Williams can stop just about anything. Her touch on free hits sends the ball right into a space where her teammates can set the offense rolling.
"Amanda has above average basic instincts," said Hammond hockey and lacrosse coach Gay Petrlik. "She's very quick and very steady, and she never gets flustered by an opponent. She rarely gets beaten but if she does, she calmly turns and tackles back.
"She just goes about business. Don't get me wrong, she's still a kid and she has a good time, but Amanda is pretty much all business in every aspect of her life."
Williams needs that kind of discipline to tackle a full slate of diverse extra-curricular activities. She's co-editor-in-chief of the school paper, The Bear Press. On weekends, she helps teach Sunday School to first graders at St. Francis of Assisi Church.
Relating directly to her future plans, however, is her stint as a member of the Howard County School Health Council. On the appointed panel, Williams provides a student's outlook on health concerns eventually passed along to the county board of education.
"We haven't faced any really hot issues this year," said Williams, "but I try to spend time talking to students at our school about the issues."
Williams said she can't remember when she decided on a career in medicine, but she remembers as a child saying she wanted to be a doctor. Both of her parents also have worked in health fields. Her mother, Monika, is a registered nurse, and her father, Charles, has worked in pharmaceutical sales.
The decision to specialize in child psychiatry came after meeting a Romanian orphan adopted by one of the nurses at a reunion she attended with her mother.
"The child had been in an orphanage and had severe developmental problems. [The orphanage] was like being in a cage," said Williams, of the child who is now 4. "It's tough to see someone, at such an early age, have that many problems that are going to affect them for the rest of their life. That's something I'd like to change."
Williams also has an interest in working with young victims of other problems that hit closer to home.
"There's so much violence today, and so many more young people are being affected by this. Some people are working on solutions to those problems, but nobody is working on treatments for the people already affected by those problems. I knew I wanted to make a difference, but I didn't know how until I decided on child psychiatry."
Even if she doesn't get into Harvard, Williams won't give up on her plans. Her second and third choices, the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and Emory University in Atlanta, offer just as many opportunities, she said.
The one thing that may not fit into all of her plans is sports.
"I'm definitely interested, but Harvard has an extremely good team and I don't know if I'd be able to play on that level. If there's a club team, I may try that, but this will probably be the end of my competitive career. Sports has been important to me, but it's not everything."