• 36°

The best Milligan from day one

Allow me to begin with the obvious- I’m not Sam Chandler.

Chandler’s an exceptional reporter and writer with an unparalleled drive for perfection. In 2017 at the Southeastern Journalism Conference, he was named the College Sportswriter of the Year. At the same conference, he decided to step out of his immediate focus of sports and entered the on-site Features writing competition, which he ended up winning as well, just for the heck of it.

I’m not Chandler but I am Rashad Milligan, the new sports editor of The Valley Times-News. My first day on the job was yesterday, May 9.

To be completely honest, I don’t know much about the Greater Valley Area coming into the job other than the fact that Lanett High School has emerged as an athletic powerhouse in the state of Alabama.

I’m coming from Atlanta, where during the day I worked as a full-time city and crime beat reporter 40 minutes west of the big city in Douglasville at the Douglas County Sentinel. The Sentinel is where I expanded my horizons as a journalist, diving into the world of news for the first time ever. My true passion, however, lived during nights and weekends. I worked as a freelance sports journalist with Rolling Out magazine among other outlets based in the Atlanta area where I had the opportunity to cover some of the biggest names in sports. I covered the NBA, NFL, UFC, and Olympic swimmers Katie Ledecky and Simone Manuel.

Thanks to the platform that the magazine provided, my work and questions have been featured on SportsCenter, Bleacher Report, and USA Today. While the gig looked cool to all of my friends and family back home, I always knew that I wanted sports to be my full-time day job and not just a side hustle. I also realized that I was starting to get comfortable in Atlanta and that there’s no growth in comfort.

The timing between Chandler’s decision to return home and the Sentinel experiencing another round of budget cuts was perfect because it forced me to step outside of my comfort zone and finally enter the world of sports on a full-time basis.

Chandler did another exceptional job in his short time at the Valley Times-News. He built trust and repaired various relationships throughout the community and now it’s my turn to make sure that progress doesn’t come to a halt.

In a new position, a new town, and a new state, following up a big act isn’t new to me at all. At Georgia State’s student newspaper, The Signal, I followed up Akiem Bailum as the new sports editor my junior year. Bailum wrote beach volleyball and soccer game recaps that were just as detailed as the football and basketball ones. Every coach loved him and they still speak with him today when he visits the campus. Coming into the job, I didn’t want to let down Bailum, so I tried to be him and I failed miserably. The moment I stopped worrying about being the next Bailum and becoming the best Milligan is the moment fortunes began to turn around for me. So here I am, with an all-new Twitter account, @VTimesSports, for the community to follow, serving the area with the best Milligan from day one.