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.

  • College softball: Changes afoot at ASA Hall of Fame Stadium

    By Jenni Carlson, Staff Writer | Published: Sun, May 24, 2015

    Renovations spanning the better part of a decade, costing millions of dollars and aiming to keep the WCWS in Oklahoma City into the 2030s are in full swing.

  • Collected Wisdom: Mike Davenport, North Georgia softball coach

    By Jenni Carlson, Staff Writer | Published: Sat, May 23, 2015

    Guthrie High alum spent a year as a student assistant with the Oklahoma State baseball team and then head coach Gary Ward

  • Changing the Capitol Hill mascot is more than a cost

    By Jenni Carlson, Staff Writer | Updated: Thu, May 21, 2015

    On Friday, the district will announce the new mascot at Capitol Hill High School. Redskins is out. Either Guardians or Red Wolves will be in. And once the change is announced during a school assembly, the transition will be in full swing.

  • Power Lunch: Chat live with columnist Jenni Carlson

    Updated: Mon, May 18, 2015

    Think the Oklahoma City Thunder can sneak into the top three spots in tonight's NBA Draft Lottery? Want to talk OU softball? Join columnist Jenni Carlson for today's Power Lunch live chat starting at 11 a.m.

  • John Roddick's fire is what fuels the men's tennis team at Oklahoma

    By Jenni Carlson, Staff Writer | Published: Wed, May 13, 2015

    On the day that OU continues a quest for the program’s first national title, it’s impossible to overstate how far the program has come under Roddick.

  • Kristen Perry is blessed to be at state track meet, blessed to be alive

    By Jenni Carlson, Staff Writer | Published: Tue, May 12, 2015

    On a day that state high school competition abounded, hundreds of athletes were vying for championships. But none had been through what Savanna High School’s Kristen Perry had to reach this point. Two years ago this month, she was lying in a hospital bed, clinging to life.

  • Collected Wisdom: Randy Heath

    By Jenni Carlson, Staff Writer | Published: Sat, May 9, 2015

    Retiring Oklahoma Christian track and field coach

  • Randy Heath's 'helping hands'

    By Jenni Carlson | Published: Sat, May 9, 2015

    Retiring Oklahoma Christian coach provides a list of some of the men who he considers vital to his career

  • The secret to Oklahoma's 'perfect' freshman pitcher Paige Parker

    By Jenni Carlson | Published: Fri, May 8, 2015

    Paige Parker owns a national record-tying four perfect games — as a freshman. Here’s the story of why she’s so good so soon, and how she became a Sooner about the same time she became a teenager.

  • Aaron Hesler is proof that OSU's Coaches vs. Cancer program works

    By Jenni Carlson, Staff Writer | Published: Wed, May 6, 2015

    Even though OSU ranks in the top 10 nationally for fundraising among CvC programs, it goes far beyond dollars. Athletes and coaches from every team at OSU are involved with outreach. They visit hospitals. They celebrate cancer survivors. They host cancer kids and their families. That’s how Aaron Hesler got involved.

  • Phil McSpadden, college softball's most successful coach, thought his future was in something else

    By Jenni Carlson | Published: Mon, May 4, 2015

    Even though sports were a big part of his life growing up in small-town Oklahoma — he went on to play college baseball — coaching never appealed to him. He didn’t want to be the guy in the polyester shorts, the striped tube socks and the Spot-Bilt shoes. He didn’t want to be the stereotype.

  • 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.

  • Jordan Phillips has his own 'Blind Side' story

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

    OKLAHOMA FOOTBALL — Here’s the story of how former Oklahoma Sooner defensive tackle Jordan Phillips went from a troubled teen-ager to a first-round hopeful in the NFL Draft Thursday night in Chicago, thanks to a classmate’s parents in Wichita, Kan.

  • 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.

  • The day Oklahoma weather almost caused Memorial Marathon's cancellation

    By Jenni Carlson, Staff Writer | Published: Thu, Apr 23, 2015

    As soon as Kari Watkins walked into the offices of the Oklahoma City National Memorial on marathon Sunday last year, she beelined for Colin Perry. He was the weatherman she hired only a year earlier to do pinpoint predictions for the race course. He had his laptop open, and the radar on the screen was lit up like a Christmas tree.

  • 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.

  • This will be a run to remember for Amy Downs and Allen Hill

    By Jenni Carlson, Staff Writer | Published: Sun, Apr 19, 2015

    Amy has done the half several times at the Memorial Marathon, but crossing the finish line this year will be different because Allen will be running. Their paths crossed so many Aprils ago, but now, their paths will be the same once again.

  • Why Oklahoma still feels like home to Duke star Jahlil Okafor

    By Jenni Carlson, Staff Writer | Published: Tue, Apr 14, 2015

    On Tuesday night, Jahlil Okafor returned to the state he called home until he was 9 to receive the Tisdale Award as the nation’s top freshman. Okafor’s basketball journey started in Moffett, Okla., where he lived until the death of his mother, a former Roland High School basketball standout who played collegiately at Carl Albert State College.

Jenni Carlson Today at 9:36 AM RT @NewsOKSports: No #sooners at the #WCWS, so who will you root for? Teams made their pitches Wednesday: LINK LINK
Jenni Carlson Mon, May. 25 2015 09:55:39 AM CST The Boss, @MikeSherman, leading a great panel on landing coveted assignments. #AWSM2015 LINK
Jenni Carlson Mon, May. 25 2015 12:01:06 AM CST @catosterman Ah, of course. Sad that we'll miss seeing you. Soon, though, I hope!
Jenni Carlson Sun, May. 24 2015 09:59:18 PM CST @catosterman Thanks! You going to make an appearance in OKC during the WCWS?
Jenni Carlson Sun, May. 24 2015 11:49:52 AM CST On the Division II softball, I'm told that it's too early to determine where Monday's title game will be played.
Jenni Carlson Sun, May. 24 2015 11:48:23 AM CST READ THIS.
Jenni Carlson Sun, May. 24 2015 11:27:08 AM CST @RLenziBlade Oh, I'm still here. Sitting not far behind you, actually! But I'm still getting news from our OKC peeps! :)
Jenni Carlson Sun, May. 24 2015 11:25:28 AM CST Because of all the rain, today's Division II softball games are being moved to Oklahoma Christian and its turf field. Games at 3p and 615p.
Jenni Carlson Sun, May. 24 2015 07:44:10 AM CST RT @GatorZoneChris: BillyD & wife Christine say goodbye to #Gators via full-page ad in Gainesville Sun. Class act. Hardly a surprise. http:…
Jenni Carlson Fri, May. 22 2015 02:57:01 PM CST Red Wolves it is at Capitol Hill. I probably would have voted for Guardians, but either way, the school got a unique mascot.
Jenni Carlson Fri, May. 22 2015 02:55:46 PM CST Capitol Hill High School announces new mascot LINK
Jenni Carlson Fri, May. 22 2015 01:55:31 PM CST At Capitol Hill HS where a new mascot will be announced. Redskins is out. Will it be Guardians or RedWolves?
Jenni Carlson Fri, May. 22 2015 09:55:56 AM CST ICYMI: Today's the day Capitol Hill announces its new mascot. Either way, it's an investment in the future. LINK
Jenni Carlson Thu, May. 21 2015 12:06:57 PM CST RT @jasonkersey: Just finished the latest draft of my upcoming profile of @OU_Track pole vaulter @jtannerwilliams. Really excited for you a…
Jenni Carlson Thu, May. 21 2015 12:04:52 PM CST RT @jasonkersey: ICYMI: My story in today's newspaper on @OU_Softball freshman third baseman @kelsarnold12 LINK #Sooners
Jenni Carlson Thu, May. 21 2015 11:50:29 AM CST RT @MikeSherman: Capitol Hill will spend/invest a quarter-million to change its mascot from Redskins. Which is it? via @JenniCarlson_OK @Th…
Jenni Carlson Wed, May. 20 2015 11:41:03 AM CST Former #OKState administrator and Rodgers State. Congrats, Wren!
Jenni Carlson Wed, May. 20 2015 11:10:01 AM CST RT @WojYahooNBA: Yahoo Sources: Scott Brooks passing on New Orleans and Denver coaching interviews, likely sitting out next season. http://…
Jenni Carlson Wed, May. 20 2015 11:08:04 AM CST RT @jjhelsley: We are LIVE at the #okstate live chat. C'mon, bring your questions. The queue is a bit empty. LINK
Jenni Carlson Wed, May. 20 2015 10:39:20 AM CST Power Lunch live chat with John Helsley. You know you want to ask a question! LINK