Sam Chandler said he thoroughly enjoyed playing soccer at Seymour High School, and as far back as middle school, he knew he wanted to play soccer at the next level.
He made that goal become a reality last week when he signed a letter of intent to play soccer at Hanover College beginning this fall.
He had many reasons he chose Hanover.
“It’s a small school, the campus is very pretty and I like the values that the coach had. We both had very similar values, so I was attracted to that environment,” he said. “I got a chance to meet the team, as well, and they all seemed very positive and energetic to have me there. I just felt at home.”
Chandler said last fall, he played center defensive mid, which is the sixth position.
“My responsibilities were to keep the ball away from the back line and switch the ball,” he said.
Chandler said he enjoyed marking up opponents and getting the ball to his teammates.
“Going in for tackles was just a fun part of it,” he said. “The challenge against your opponents is just fun.”
Chandler said he feels like his quickness and experience are the strongest parts of his game, and he was able to beat his opponents to a lot of 50-50 balls.
“Also, my positioning on the field is what helped me,” he said. “Sometimes, players were faster than me, but when I had better positioning, I was able to get to the ball.”
Chandler began playing soccer at an early age. He played for the Seymour Cyclones at the age of 7, and this summer will be his fifth playing for the Columbus Express.
With the Express, he has played throughout the Midwest, including in a regional tournament in Kansas City, and he played in two college showcases in Florida.
“Every time I stepped onto a soccer field, all my problems went away, and I was able to concentrate on soccer,” he said. “Practice was very important. I was always excited to go to summer workouts. Those were probably my favorite practices.”
He said he enjoyed the home matches.
“It was just unreal. Playing under the bright lights at night is a feeling that I’ll always remember,” he said. “When it’s nighttime, it’s a lot easier to play. The turf is faster than grass.”
Chandler was chosen as a member of the all-Hoosier Hills Conference first team, all-district second team and academic all-state.
He said playing for the Owls meant a lot to him.
“There are lots of memories on that field,” he said.
The Hanover coach has given Chandler a summer workout schedule.
“I’ve been doing my own conditioning to prepare me for the first day of practice,” he said.
The Hanover men’s soccer team plays a junior varsity schedule, and Chandler said, “The JV team is newer and it allows players who aren’t getting enough playing time on the varsity to have the opportunity to get play.”
Owls coach Matt Dennis said he feels like Chandler can have a good soccer career at Hanover.
“Sam will be a good addition to their team,” Dennis said. “He’s a good, hard worker. I think the Hanover coach is going to like it when he starts playing for them. He was pretty versatile for us. We played him a couple different spots this year. He was one of our hardest workers, which is why he got an arm (captain’s) band. He was able to lead by example. You could point to his work ethic any day and say, ‘I want the team to do that.’”
Chandler also wrestled three years at SHS and said he enjoyed that experience.
Last winter, he wrestled at 152 pounds and was a semistate qualifier.
“The thing I enjoyed the most about wrestling was the practices we had,” Chandler said. “They were very competitive, and to work to get better is what I enjoyed the most because I knew it would help me.”