Minor in the Majors
updated 07/12/1993 AT 01:00 AM EDT
•originally published 07/12/1993 AT 01:00 AM EDT
The producer discovered Maria in June 1992 when he interviewed her after a kids' slam-dunk contest in which she took part. "What impressed me," he says, "was that she had the poise and confidence to ham it up. That's what you need."
Gallagher suggested that Maria be given a regular spot reporting children's sports activities, and starting last September she has been doing two or three pieces a week. Soon, though, she began to broaden her coverage, interviewing such grown-up stars as Michael Jordan (she asked him if he got the basketball blues at season's end), Pittsburgh Pirates centerfielder Andy Van Slyke and Buffalo Bills quarterback Jim Kelly. During her chat with His Airness—in the locker room after a Cleveland Cavaliers game—Maria was much taken with NBA sneaker size. "I could get both of my feet into one shoe," she says.
Maria, whose parents operate a formal-wear shop, is a straight-A student at St. Andrews Catholic School in Erie. Although she has always wanted to be a dermatologist, she is starling to think about a career in TV, and her parents are negotiating a syndicated half-hour kids' interview show.
Maria is already developing the sangfroid of a celebrity. She was in New York City for an appearance on Good Morning America when she met 11-year-old Zachery Bryan (Brad on Home Improvement), who invited her to a taping of his show. Did she develop a little crush, maybe? Maria crinkles her nose. "He's my pen pal," she says. "I don't drool over anybody."