Sports journalist Sally Jenkins was born in Fort Worth, Texas, on Oct. 22, 1960 and raised in New York City. Jenkins has written for a variety of newspapers and magazines in a career spanning more than 26 years.
After graduating from Stanford University in 1982, Jenkins spent time at The San Francisco Chronicle, the San Francisco Examiner and the Los Angeles Herald Examiner before moving to the east coast as a staff writer for The Washington Post in 1984.
As a child, Sally Jenkins liked to spend her vacations tagging along with her father, Dan Jenkins, to work. Dan Jenkins was a heralded senior sportswriter for Sports Illustrated for 35 years and wrote the 1970s best-selling football novel “Semi-Tough.” Sally Jenkins’ summers were spent with her two brothers travelling from sporting arenas to manicured golf greens.
Despite being exposed to sports journalism through her father from a very young age, Jenkins wanted to pursue a different kind of writing in college and opted to be an English literature major. But she still chose to get involved with journalism early in her college career by working for The Stanford Daily right from her freshman year. She developed her skills as a reporter during this time, learning lessons such as making the extra call because you never know if who you’ll get on the phone – even a prominent figure like Bill Walsh, former Stanford and San Francisco 49ers coach – unless you try.
After starting out covering the men’s water polo team, she became the sports section’s co-editor in 1981 and 1982. Jenkins oversaw the department during John Elway’s quarterbacking the Stanford football team. After graduating, she held myriad writing positions, even working as an assistant to the gossip columnist at the Los Angeles Examiner for a year. She got early experience covering high school sports for the San Francisco Examiner during this time, as well.
She joined The Washington Post in 1984, covering Navy, the University of Maryland, national college football and professional sports. She spent more than a year covering the death of Len Bias and its aftermath. Jenkins left The Post for Sports Illustrated in 1990 and, in 1996, she wrote “Men Will Be Boys: The Modern Woman Explains Football and Other Amusing Male Rituals,” which addressed the topic of women in sports.
Returning to The Washington Post in 1997 as columnist, she has covered such significant sports news events as Joe Paterno’s departure from Penn State. During this phase of her life, she also wrote several books, including two in collaboration with Lance Armstrong. She has covered many different types of sports figures — some with social courage and some lacking.
Regardless of who she covers, Sally Jenkins’ goal is to find the true character of her subject . As a columnist and writer for The Washington Post, she cherishes those opportunities.
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