Allow me to introduce our valued readers to the News-Times’ new-look sports pages.

Starting with today’s print edition, I’m charged with delivering local prep sports coverage that goes beyond what we’ve provided in this space since I came on staff here a year ago. I’m confident that together, with the help of our local high school athletic programs’ coaches, administrators, parents and community boosters, the News-Times’ renewed emphasis on local preps will produce Lincoln County’s best local sports coverage.

While under my watch, the News-Times sports pages will focus on the student-athletes committed to representing their schools and their communities on the fields and courts of athletic play. We’re here to celebrate their efforts, so after this column, there’s going to be a lot less “I, me, mine” in this space.

The responsibility of local sports coverage shouldn’t be taken lightly, and not unlike team sports, the success of this section will come as the result of a group effort. This school year, the News-Times is asking high school varsity coaches from Eddyville Charter, Newport, Siletz Valley, Taft, Toledo and Waldport for a little extra in the public relations arena in order to help us consistently tell the whole story, one that goes beyond what the scoreboard reads once the clock ticks down to zero.

During the next few early-season weeks, local coaches and I will be engrossed in a learning process. They’ll be learning

how best to provide the more detailed game information the News-Times is now asking of them. And I’m going to figure out how stay on the coaches’ good sides as well as to be the best one-person sports department possible.

That said, if there’s a specific program that doesn’t appear to be receiving the in-depth coverage that other teams enjoy, that won’t be due to a lack of effort on the part of the News-Times. The more information coaches provide to the News-Times, the more press their teams will receive in the paper, and vice versa. We can’t be everywhere at once, so without the help of our coaches, we’ll be forced to run with what information is available at deadline, and often, that won’t be much more than a final score, season record and what’s ahead on the schedule. That’s not how I want things to work around here.

In the News-Times sports pages during the coming weeks, readers should expect to find a calendar of upcoming events, a few feature stories, game previews, game roundups and maybe an opinion column or two that focuses on the national sports scene. We want the community to know the News-Times is the only local media outlet with a dedicated sports reporter, and we expect to deliver on our promise of top-notch local coverage.

In our eyes, these aren’t the News-Times’ sports pages, they’re your sports pages, and we want our readers to help shape them. Send in your comments, concerns and suggestions in emails to mheinbach@newportnewstimes.com. Let us know what’s working, and what isn’t. Heck, if you’re inspired to send an email to say you think a 9-year-old child could do a better job, have at it. We want to hear the cheers and the jeers.

Tell us what you’d like to see more of, or where else we should focus our efforts. Please get in touch and let me know if there’s a noteworthy story about a team or an individual student-athlete you think deserves some extra attention. If you attended a game and have an action photograph you think should run in the paper, send it to us, and it just might end up in the paper. Think of the sports pages as an extension of our “Community” section — they belong to our readers.

My hopes and expectations are high for the News-Times’ sports pages during the upcoming school year. It’s going to take a lot of work, but we’re going to produce a sports section that all of Lincoln County will be proud of. I’m looking forward to it.

Michael Heinbach, News-Times sports editor

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