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Kristin Murphy, Deseret News
Jazz sideline reporter Kristen Kenney works during a Jazz game at the Vivint Smart Home Arena in Salt Lake City on Monday, Jan. 23, 2017.
Keeping the Jazz here is a part of what Utah is. Without the Jazz, it’s not the same. —Kristen Kenney

SALT LAKE CITY — Growing up, Kristen Kenney loved Utah and the Utah Jazz. She spent a lot of time in Park City skiing with her dad so when the opportunity to come work in the same place she had so many memories of she couldn’t say no.

“I love it”, said Kenney. “I feel like this has become my home. I’ve lived in a lot of different cities, and I’ve always wanted to be here in Utah. Growing up skiing in Park City and now working with the Jazz it’s the best of both worlds.”

Kenney, who joined the Utah Jazz broadcast crew this past year, could see herself staying in Utah long-term. Kenney knows the grind that the team puts in day in and day out as a former athlete herself. She played Division I soccer at the University of Miami as a defender.

“I’ve been out of the grind for awhile until starting this season," said Kenney. "But I feel like having that experience of playing at a competitive level it’s in your nature. You click into gear and go.”

The travel is both brutal and fun, according to Kenney. Even though she traveled at the college level she has a new appreciation for what these guys go through and the sacrifice that they make. They spend a lot of time away from their families during the season and it becomes grueling.

“A lot of the time it’s sheer running off of adrenaline," said Kenney about the back to back games and travel. “Then you sit down when you have two days off and you realize, OK, I actually am really tired.”

She loves the family atmosphere the most about being on the road. From the team, the coaching staff and the broadcast crew she feels like everyone has become a big family which is another reason why she loves being a part of the Utah Jazz organization.

When the Miller family announced that the Jazz would be staying in Utah for years to come Kenney was excited since she grew up around the Jazz.

“Teams move around all the time and so to have the community have this team for years and years and years, it’s just exciting”, said Kenney. “I think it shows how amazing the Miller family really is and how committed to the community they really are. Keeping the Jazz here is a part of what Utah is. Without the Jazz, it’s not the same.”

Kenney has always loved sports but it was her dad who encouraged her to pursue a job in the sports world. She remembers sitting on the couch with her dad in high school and he said, “You love sports so much, you know what you could do? You could cover sports."

Said Kenney: "I thought that was pretty awesome.”

Kenney went to Elon University, where she got a head start in the broadcasting field. She then transferred to the University of Miami where she went on to work on the sidelines of football games and she knew it was something she always wanted to do.

Things changed for Kenney in 2012 when she lost her father to a heart attack. She moved out west because it was his favorite place to be.

“He was probably the biggest person to influence everything that I’ve done to this very day," said Kenney.

He encouraged her to be her very best at whatever she does and pursues. With that same enthusiasm for life that she learned from her dad, Kenney is sharing her knowledge and love for sports with others.

“If you have a passion, let that passion out,” said Kenney. “For me, I love what I do. If you show that and wear that on your sleeves, then you can’t really go wrong.”

For now, Kenney will continue to ski when she can and enjoy the family she’s made here in Utah. “It’s a family here,” she said. “I think that’s the biggest thing about the Jazz. From the top of the organization all the way down, you don’t feel like there is a division of seniority. Everyone makes you feel at home and comfortable.”

Carra McManamon is a native of Washington State and is attending the University of Utah. Contact her at carra.mcmanamon22@gmail.com or follow her on Twitter: @curramac22