Jenni Carlson
Sports Columnist

Jenni Carlson, a sports columnist at The Oklahoman since 1999, came by her love of sports honestly. She grew up in a sports-loving family in Kansas. Her dad coached baseball and did color commentary on the radio for the high school football games. Her mom kept the scorebook during baseball games and yelled her head off no matter the sport. They passed along that passion to Carlson and her two younger brothers.

Carlson played golf in high school and planned to play in college, but when she started at the University of Kansas, she decided to focus her attention on journalism. It’s a decision that she’s never regretted.

Her first big story was a profile on Kansas basketball coach Roy Williams for the yearbook, and Carlson has enjoyed interviewing sports figures and sharing their stories every since.
Carlson is a 1997 graduate of Kansas. She and her husband, Ryan, were married in 2009 and live in Oklahoma City. They welcomed their first child, Millie, in June 2012. Carlson was the president of the Association for Women in Sports Media from 2008-10 and chair of the board from 2010-12.

  • Billy Donovan has already embraced Oklahoma City community

    By Jenni Carlson, Staff Writer | Published: Fri, May 1, 2015

    Billy Donovan came to Oklahoma City to scout recruits at an AAU tournament in April 1995. What he remembers from that trip, though, has nothing to do with basketball. “It was about a week after the bombing,” Donovan said. “And I was driving in towards downtown. I couldn’t believe driving, seeing all the windows and the buildings and the destruction.” As he talked Friday during his formal introduction as the Thunder’s new head coach, he paused every now and again. You could almost see him reliving the sights — and the emotions — of that drive. “You could see that the city was paralyzed.

  • What Billy Donovan lacks in NBA experience will be covered by Durant, Westbrook and 'The Thunder Way'

    By Jenni Carlson | Updated: Thu, Apr 30, 2015

    COMMENTARY — New Oklahoma City Thunder coach Billy Donovan’s transition to the NBA will be eased by a loaded roster.

  • Five things you didn't know about Billy Donovan

    By Jenni Carlson | Updated: Thu, Apr 30, 2015

    BILLY DONOVAN: DID YOU KNOW? Donovan is one of only four men to appear in the Final Four as a player and win the national title as a coach. The others are Dean Smith, Joe B. Hall and Bobby Knight. After playing one season with the Knicks as a reserve guard, Donovan worked briefly as a stock broker on Wall Street. Donovan and his wife, Christine, helped to open a Catholic high school in Gainesville. They raised funds and encouraged plans, and in 2004, St. Francis High School opened. Donovan’s parents have lived in Gainesville since 1996. His dad, Bill Sr., has attended most every game and practice since.

  • Thunder: If you didn't like late-game coaching from Scott Brooks, brace yourself for Billy Donovan

    Jenni Carlson | Updated: Wed, Apr 29, 2015

    One of the gripes about Scott Brooks heard most often over the years was his coaching late in games. Plays weren’t well-designed. Players in the game weren’t the best options. You might want to brace yourself, Thunder Nation. One of the biggest knocks on the prohibitive favorite to replace Brooks is poor coaching late in games. […]

  • Chat Recap: Why the Thunder is eyeballing college coaches in a critical year

    staff reports | Updated: Tue, Apr 28, 2015

    Jenni Carlson, columnist for The Oklahoman, answered your questions on the Power Lunch chat. Thunder heavy and even some Bedlam baseball thrown in. Here's the recap.

  • Why would Coach K. ever leave Duke for the Thunder? Two words: professional challenge.

    By Jenni Carlson, Staff Writer | Published: Mon, Apr 27, 2015

    And if you don’t think Coach K is interested in such things — what more does he have to prove, after all? — remember what he’s done in the past decade with Team USA.

  • Power Lunch: Chat with Jenni Carlson

    staff reports | Updated: Fri, Apr 24, 2015

    Join columnist Jenni Carlson for the Power Lunch live chat at 11 a.m, where she'll be talking Thunder coaching change, Buddy Hield, OSU football, Memorial Marathon and more. Get your questions in here.

  • Scott Brooks' tenure as Thunder coach had way more positives than negatives

    By Jenni Carlson, Staff Writer | Published: Wed, Apr 22, 2015

    From the very beginning, he connected with players. Young. Old. Stars. Reserves. Didn’t matter. Brooks had good relationships and great rapport with all of them. And that remained the same until the end.

  • Oklahoma City Thunder: Scott Brooks' five biggest strengths and weaknesses as a coach

    By Jenni Carlson, Staff Writer | Published: Wed, Apr 22, 2015

    Scott Brooks went 338-207, made three appearances in the Western Conference Finals in the past four years and even took the team to the 2012 NBA Finals — but he could never get the Thunder over the hump to a title.

  • OKC Thunder: The Book on Brooks: Five strengths and weaknesses of Scott Brooks

    Jenni Carlson | Published: Wed, Apr 22, 2015

    The Thunder fired Scott Brooks on Wednesday after nearly seven seasons as head coach. He went 338-207, made three appearances in the Western Conference Finals in the past four years and even took the team to the 2012 NBA Finals — but he could never get the Thunder over the hump to a title. Here’s […]

  • Oklahoma City Thunder: Oklahoman writers weigh in on Thunder's season

    Compiled by Darnell Mayberry | Published: Sun, Apr 19, 2015

    Oklahoma City saw its players miss a combined 220 games due to injuries, Russell Westbrook emerged as an MVP candidate and coach Scott Brooks’ job security was called into question the moment it was all said and done. Our writers weigh in on those topics and more in a roundtable discussion.

  • Rooting for the silver and black? Some in the Thunder camp will be.

    By Jenni Carlson | Updated: Mon, Apr 13, 2015

    The Thunder needs to beat Minnesota on Wednesday night — and it needs the Spurs to take down the Pelicans for Oklahoma City to qualify for the playoffs.

  • Final Four: Would Wisconsin over Kentucky be an upset?

    Updated: Fri, Apr 3, 2015

    WE PICK'EM -- The Oklahoman's Berry Tramel and Jenni Carlson discuss their picks for Thunder-Grizzlies, Thunder-Rockets, Michigan State-Duke and whether Wisconsin over Kentucky qualifies as an upset.

  • Chance to do painting of Martin Luther King Jr. in live event is dream opportunity for Oklahoma artist

    By Jenni Carlson | Published: Thu, Apr 2, 2015

    Ray Tennyson is recognized in Oklahoma for his portraits of Oklahoma City Thunder players. His renderings of superstars Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook have earned him the honor of painting Martin Luther King live on Saturday in Washington, D.C.

  • Thunder Thursday: Life behind the eight ball

    staff reports | Updated: Thu, Apr 2, 2015

    THUNDER THURSDAY -- The home loss to the Mavericks ended the Thunder’s hopes of moving up in the Western Conference playoff race. But is it too soon to assume OKC will be the eight-seed and face Golden State? The Oklahoman's Thunder coverage team discusses.

  • Power Lunch: Chat with Jenni Carlson from H&H Shooting Sports

    staff reports | Updated: Wed, Mar 25, 2015

    It's Wednesday on the Power Lunch chat! Get your men's and women's NCAA Tournament, Thunder, and spring football questions in to Jenni Carlson on the Power Lunch chat at 11 a.m., live from H&H Shooting Sports,

  • News of Serge Ibaka's knee problem is no reason to give up on the season

    By Jenni Carlson, Staff Writer | Published: Mon, Mar 16, 2015

    Just think about all the maladies that have befallen this team. Kevin Durant breaks his foot, then has to have a second surgery on his foot to replace a screw. Russell Westbrook breaks his hand, then breaks his face. The list goes on.

  • Oklahoma City Thunder: Russell Westbrook needs Kevin Durant now and forever more

    By Jenni Carlson | Published: Wed, Mar 11, 2015

    Playing for the first time since a media pundit suggested Westbrook’s recent play will make it more likely the Thunder will trade Durant — a notion Thunder general manager Sam Presti called “ludicrous” in an interview with our Darnell Mayberry before the game — this night was a reminder of how much the Thunder needs KD. Russ is great. Russ is spectacular. But Russ can’t do it alone, especially against the best teams in the league.

  • Oklahoma City Thunder: Time to put aside the handwringing and appreciate Russell Westbrook

    BY JENNI CARLSON | Published: Tue, Feb 24, 2015

    Since the start of the playoffs last spring, Westbrook has notched six triple-doubles. What this guy is doing is not only special but also historic.

  • Thunder notebook: Frank Vogel calls his former point guard D.J. Augustin 'great pick-up' for OKC

    BY ANTHONY SLATER | Published: Tue, Feb 24, 2015

    One person that knows D.J. Augustin well is Indiana coach Frank Vogel. Augustin played for him two seasons ago, serving as the backup point guard for a Pacers team that came within a game of the NBA Finals.

Jenni Carlson Sun, May. 03 2015 12:57:38 PM CST @geoff_calkins Jealous of you getting that series. Should be tons of fun. Grizz-Thunder again next year?
Jenni Carlson Thu, Apr. 30 2015 09:01:10 PM CST RT @BerryTramel: Is hiring Billy Donovan a risk? Aside from Gregg Popovich, Mike Krzyzewski, who isn't? LINK
Jenni Carlson Thu, Apr. 30 2015 07:20:39 PM CST So, the Thunder gets a new coach, OU has the new softball HR leader and a tiger gets loose at the zoo. Just another Thursday in OKC.
Jenni Carlson Thu, Apr. 30 2015 07:19:52 PM CST RT @OU_Softball: COLLEGE SOFTBALL HAS A NEW HOME RUN CHAMPION AND IT'S @LChamberlain44!!!!!
Jenni Carlson Thu, Apr. 30 2015 06:21:13 PM CST Want to know what @KDTrey5 thinks about Billy Donovan? @DarnellMayberry has you covered.
Jenni Carlson Thu, Apr. 30 2015 06:18:41 PM CST RT @NewsOKThunder: Kevin Durant says he's "excited for the next step" in this Q&A with @DarnellMayberry: LINK LINK
Jenni Carlson Thu, Apr. 30 2015 03:46:16 PM CST RT @NewsOK: Jordan Phillips has his own 'Blind Side' story LINK via @JenniCarlson_OK LINK
Jenni Carlson Thu, Apr. 30 2015 02:26:51 PM CST RT @NewsOKThunder: Talking Billy Donovan LIVE with @DarnellMayberry @anthonyVslater @JenniCarlson_OK @BerryTramel @MikeSherman: LINK
Jenni Carlson Thu, Apr. 30 2015 01:45:43 PM CST RT @ErikHorneOK: Bill Hader?
Jenni Carlson Thu, Apr. 30 2015 01:39:23 PM CST RT @DarnellMayberry: On the Thunder's hiring of Billy Donovan, a former assistant under Donovan says: "You're very fortunate, I can tell yo…
Jenni Carlson Thu, Apr. 30 2015 12:27:33 PM CST RT @anthonyVslater: I'm already envisioning Serge Ibaka at Media Day: "Billy Donovan?...(looks around)...Billy Donovan?"…
Jenni Carlson Thu, Apr. 30 2015 12:24:20 PM CST RT @NewsOK: .@JenniCarlson_OK: Hiring Billy Donovan is a risk LINK #okcthunder LINK
Jenni Carlson Thu, Apr. 30 2015 12:17:19 PM CST RT @McMurphyESPN: UF will have new FB/hoop coaches same year for 1st time since Steve Spurrier, Lon Kruger (1990-91)
Jenni Carlson Thu, Apr. 30 2015 12:15:52 PM CST RT @WojYahooNBA: Billy Donovan is signing a five-year contract with the Thunder, league sources tell Yahoo Sports.
Jenni Carlson Thu, Apr. 30 2015 12:14:11 PM CST RT @WojYahooNBA: Oklahoma City has hired Billy Donovan as coach, league sources tell Yahoo Sports.
Jenni Carlson Thu, Apr. 30 2015 12:13:47 PM CST RT @pmonies: From 2007: "Multiple sources said Donovan woke up Saturday morning and realized he had made a mistake." LINK
Jenni Carlson Thu, Apr. 30 2015 12:13:35 PM CST RT @gatorhoops: Thunder struck: Donovan leaves UF for NBA: Billy Donovan led Florida basketball to tremendous heights in his 1... LINK
Jenni Carlson Thu, Apr. 30 2015 12:10:27 PM CST @theBrookeHaney Huh, I didn't have a hard time with Memphis, but the rest of those either have weather or too many people.
Jenni Carlson Thu, Apr. 30 2015 12:06:01 PM CST @theBrookeHaney You'll never want to do it again. There, Denver and Atlanta are my three avoids.
Jenni Carlson Thu, Apr. 30 2015 12:05:12 PM CST RT @pat_dooley: Billy Donovan to Thunder is complete in principle. Contract talks still in process according to source.