Sports Columnist, Kansas City Star
Sam Mellinger (j'01) is a sports columnist for the Kansas City Star, offering insight, commentary, and opinion on everything from the Chiefs and Royals to area colleges to youth sports.
Mellinger grew up in Lawrence and took a job with the Journal-World the day after he got his driver's license (the first day he spent trying to impress his girlfriend). He did whatever nobody else wanted to do, which meant typing obituaries and news briefs and hand-counting the results of a contest picking Lawrence's favorite comic strip. Eventually, they let him cover summer baseball, then high school football, and after a year or so teams at KU.
He continued at the Journal-World while a student at KU, covering the Jayhawks and area high schools. As a junior, he covered women's basketball and wrote columns for the University Daily Kansan. As a senior, he covered KU football and men's basketball for the Topeka Capital-Journal. He also interned at the Cincinnati Enquirer.
After graduating in 2000, he took a job with the Star covering high school sports in Johnson County. That led to a promotion writing high school takeouts, which led to a promotion writing high school columns, which led to a promotion covering the Royals and major league baseball. He's been a general sports columnist since 2010. In a span of a few months, the Star went from having Joe Posnanski and Jason Whitlock writing columns to just Mellinger. He wasn't the only one who thought that was strange.
In his current job, Mellinger has covered everything from the Olympics and Super Bowls and World Series to a junior high school girl who overcame severe depression through MMA and a former high school football star who died at 25 with levels of CTE never seen before in someone so young. Mellinger is also a regular presence for the Star's podcasts and videos.
His work has been honored nationally by the National Headliner Awards and Associated Press Sports Editors for columns, features, and projects. He's also been honored by the state APSE body and appeared regularly on TV and radio both locally and nationally.
Mellinger and his wife — she was the one he was trying to impress with the car, by the way — live in Kansas City with their two sons, Sammy and JB.