Marley Golato

When you have three younger siblings, responsibility often trumps fun.

Child sitting. Helping out with homework and chores. Setting a good example.

Not exactly frolicking in a carefree environment, but Pope John Paul II High School junior Marley Golato isn’t complaining.

“Sometimes it can be annoying, but I really don’t mind it,” Golato said. “It’s just part of being the oldest. You get used to the expectations.”

Speaking of which, few have more expectations on the PJP athletic fields than Golato, whose diminutive, 5-foot, 2-inch stature belies her physical strength and stamina.

A member of St. Mary Parish in Schwenksville, Golato competes as a field hockey goalie in the fall, a basketball guard in the winter, and a softball catcher/utility player in the spring (she played lacrosse last year but is switching back to softball this year).

Formerly of Pottstown’s St. Pius X before the school merged with Norristown’s Kennedy-Kenrick to form John Paul II last year, Golato said she “knows no other way” than to become heavily involved in her community.

“It works out best that way,” she said. “I’m always on the go, and that type of style fits me. I like moving from one thing to another.”

In addition to being a school ambassador — mainly helping out at open houses and visiting grade schools to promote enrollment — Golato volunteers to help with mentally challenged youngsters at a local community center.

While feeling “very fortunate to have the ability to come and go as I please without any obstacles,” Golato said the children she meets on a weekly basis always leave her with a lasting impression.

“They are adorable,” she said. “They are so happy. They just go through their day with smiles on their faces and don’t seem to have a care in the world. It’s great to be around them.”

One might think that such a busy schedule — she also has a part-time job at a nearby ice cream parlor — would preclude Golato from academic success. However — and this is a common mantra from multi-sport athletes — she prefers threading one sport to the next without much of a break.

“There is a regular routine that I get used to,” the honor student said. “The busier I am, the more focused I become. My grades actually go down when I am not playing a sport.”

When Golato speaks, it is obvious she maintains a sense of pride in a high school still in the infancy stages of developing an athletic reputation. With Pope John Paul II a step from sainthood, Golato predicts her entire school community will react with more fervor and appreciation should he one day be canonized.

“We do a lot of things at our school that honor his life,” she said. “We probably know more about him than any other school. So I think it makes sense that if he eventually becomes canonized, it will be a very special occasion to everyone who went to or worked at the school named after our patron saint.”

John Knebels can be reached at jknebs@aol.com.