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For local sports celebrities, Christmas is time for wishful thinking


Frank Robinson is wishing for patience from Baltimore Orioles fans, Wes Unseld wants a full roster of healthy players for the Washington Bullets, Gary Williams hopes there is a way for National Collegiate Athletic Association teams to focus on basketball instead of investigations, Kenny Cooper longs for sellout crowds at the Baltimore Arena and Navy football coach George Chaump desires 30 recruits with times in the 40-yard -- as good as their grade-point averages.

That is just a sampling from a Christmas wish list for area sports figures from the professional, collegiate and high school ranks.

Orioles manager Robinson doesn't seem to be asking for too much -- or is he?

Coach Unseld should have his wish granted soon, provided John Williams can trim his excess weight.

Gary Williams, the Maryland basketball coach, appears to be asking for the impossible.

Baltimore Blast coach Cooper is allowed to dream a little.

Chaump gets an "A" for one of the more entertaining wishes.

Morgan State athletic director Leonard Braxton also may be wishing for too much when he says: "I hope the NCAA has a heart. They're aware of the plight of the smaller Division I schools, and, at our last meeting, there were some amendments to help us. I hope we get that help."

The wish that may hit home the hardest comes from University of Maryland Baltimore County basketball coach Earl Hawkins.

"I'd like the NCAA to allow us to let our players enjoy Christmas," Hawkins said. "I wish we could give them presents from a monetary allowance so they could get the true feeling of Christmas. A lot of our guys don't get to go home for Christmas, but we still have to make sure we don't give them anything."

Hawkins said the only thing the school can do is "make sure the players are fed."

In the spirit of the season, there is a story from Towson State basketball coach Terry Truax.

Truax told how his team, which nearly upset Oklahoma in the first round of the NCAA tournament last year, has been inspired since February by a 14-year-old girl named Sarah who was born with one leg.

Truax said his Christmas wish is borrowed from a comment Sarah, who lives in Shreveport, La., made to Louisiana State athletic director Joe Dean last year.

"Our team became aware of Sarah last February when we were only 9-10," said Truax. "We went on a roll after that. Joe Dean is a friend of mine, and he got to know Sarah because her family is big LSU fans."

According to Truax, Sarah told Dean she made almost straight A's in school because "I do the best I can every day -- doesn't everybody?"

Truax said Sarah has learned to swim and told Dean, "I want to swim in deep water, because that's where the big boys play, and I want to swim the full length of the pool."

Truax said, "Now I tell the players we want to go the full length of the pool."

And his Christmas wish is paraphrased from Sarah: "I'd like for our team to have the ability to keep in mind to do the best you can every day -- doesn't everybody?"

One of the more meaningful Christmas wishes comes from Towson State football coach Phil Albert.

"I would hope the coaches and players who have taken so much from the game give something back by standing up and being role models for youngsters in the fight against alcohol and drugs," said Albert. "They don't have to make commercials and things like that, just be a role model by their actions."

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