The new year brings with it a new race

Published 10:37 am Wednesday, January 3, 2018

I remember the first time I read about Lanett.

I was perched in the Bryant-Denny Stadium press box in early December, preparing to cover the Class 5A state football championship. As time ticked toward kickoff, I flipped through the gameday program that highlighted the various title tilts by classification.

That’s when I came across Lanett High School, then 14-0 on the season.

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At the time, I did not know the Panthers would capture their first-ever state title the next day. I also did not know that I would soon have the chance to cover Lanett, along six other Greater Valley Area schools, the next month.

But life wouldn’t be as compelling if the future was predictable.

My name is Sam Chandler, and I am the new sports editor of The Valley Times-News. I started at the paper yesterday, Jan. 2, kicking off the new year with a new job in a new city.

I couldn’t be more excited.

It has been my dream to work for a daily newspaper since my journalism career began as a Samford University freshman. Back then, I wrote about baseball, softball and other sports for the weekly campus newspaper, The Samford Crimson.

I worked at the Crimson throughout my college career before graduating last May. Then, I started my first full-time job as the assistant sports editor at Starnes Publishing, which produces monthly community newspapers in metro Birmingham.

Now I am here in The Valley, and I look forward to providing this area with unparalleled local coverage in print and online. It is what the schools, coaches, athletes and fans deserve.

Here’s my vision.

I want the Times-News sports section to feature content that is relevant, diverse and unique;  I want it to be a reliable source of information about your favorite local teams; I want it to tell stories that would otherwise go untold.

As I begin to carry out this vision, I will need your input to fine-tune my coverage, which I vow to approach with objectivity and thoughtfulness.

You can connect with me via phone, email or social media. My Twitter handle is @sam5k, which references my past pursuits as a high school and college runner. The 5K distance was my favorite, as it required determination, desire and a sharp focus.

Those are qualities I still rely on as a journalist. I trust that they will serve me well as I strive to serve you.

I’m ready for this new race.

Sam Chandler is sports editor of The Valley Times-News and can be reached by email at or by phone at 334-644-8106.