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Christmas wishes for area sports personalities

By Frank Giardina

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- IT IS A few days before Christmas. Here are Christmas wishes for some of our state's sports personalities:

  • Continued good health for our state's most popular sports legend, Jerry West. He is now 75 and his free-throw shooting video is being viewed by a new group of fans worldwide.
  • Also, continued good health for one of our state's most amazing coaches ever, Lewis D'Antoni. The former Mullens coaching great is the patriarch of the royal family of basketball in our state and celebrated his 100th birthday last August.
  • Enjoyable rounds of golf for our state's most underrated basketball superstar, former DuPont, Marshall and Miami Heat point guard Jason Williams.  
  • The same goes for Vernell "Bimbo" Coles, the former Greenbrier East and Virginia Tech star who had a successful 15-year NBA career.  
  • More punts to return and a copy of James Taylor's classic song "In My Mind I'm Going to Carolina" for Tar Heel return man and former George Washington Patriot, Ryan Switzer.
  • An NCAA tournament berth for WVU's Bob Huggins and Marshall's Tom Herrion.  
  • Many hoops trips to Morgantown this winter for the man who scored the first basket in the history of the Coliseum, former WVU and Charleston High star Levi Phillips.
  • A satisfying return to a baseball coaching box for long-time area baseball coach Billy Joe Hicks.
  • Good winter weather and on-time construction projects for Marshall's athletic director and facilities builder, Mike Hamrick.
  • A new White Falcons letterman's jacket for state-wide sports talk show host and Wahama grad Garrett Cullen.
  • A bowl-game win over Maryland in the Terps' final game as an ACC school for Marshall football coach Doc Holliday.  
  • Continued recovery for long-time Greenbrier East basketball coach and athletic director, Jerry Bradley.  
  • More games to officiate on college basketball's biggest stage for NCAA hoops official and Bluefield resident Mike Eades.  
  • Another NFL tryout opportunity for former Capital High and Eastern Kentucky star Tyrone Goard and former Scott High and University of Charleston star Jordan Roberts.  
  • Better local fan support for Huntington Prep basketball coach Rob Fulford.
  • Continued recovery for former WVU great and long-time Logan basketball coach Willie Akers.
  • A linebacker-fullback type as good as he was for former St. Albans and WVU football star Derek Christian, now the football coach at Lincoln County.  
  • A successful debut for Bryan Poore and his W.Va. State Yellow Jackets in the opening of our area's newest basketball arena.
  • A Merry Christmas for one of our area's most underrated and overlooked baseball stars, former Winfield, Kentucky and long-time major league baseball coach Jim Lett.
  • Continued good health for a man who never seems to age, former Gauley Bridge star and long-time Charleston High coach John Vencill.  Also, one more softball game to pitch for his daughter-in-law, Laura Gresham, a former all-stater at Charleston Catholic.
  • Good memories and a reminder of their place in our state's basketball history of winning eight state basketball titles in a row for former Northfork Blue Demons: Mark Page, Anthony Harris, David "Duck" Riley, Scotty and Russell Todd, Eddie Ivy and others who wore the red and blue for the late Jennings Boyd.   
  • A scrapbook of newspaper clippings, reminding him of his on-court accomplishments for former Nitro and Alderson-Broaddus basketball star Gordie McClanahan.
  • Finally, a miraculous recovery for long-time South Charleston area coach and administrator Bert Morris, who is now getting hospice care. Morris impacted the lives of many athletes in Spring Hill and South Charleston, such as David Potter, Jack Woolwine and Patches Strigle. He won numerous junior high championships at Spring Hill and also won national 3 on 3 basketball championships playing with former UNC star Nemo Nearman.
  • One of his former players, Rick Dearien, writes that "he was a coach, teacher, mentor and friend to us all. He was an incredible physical education teacher who taught us the value of staying fit and competing, as well as respect for adults and officials. We all want to thank him and tell him that we love him while we can."

    Reach Frank Giardina at flg16@hotmail.com.


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