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The Vanguard

Inside Jaguar athletics: JT Crabtree

Photo courtesy of USAJaguars.

Photo courtesy of USAJaguars.

Ryann Guy, Reporter

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Many sports enthusiasts could only dream to have an all-access media pass with their name on it. Few people can say they get paid for it. JT Crabtree is among those few. One of his duties is to wake up on the weekends and head to the ballpark. At least that is his favorite part of the job. Even on an off day, you can find the 26-year-old South Alabama alumna traveling to go to other sporting events outside of Mobile.

Crabtree does many things for the athletic department. His desk job is to look over all social media for “Jag Nation” by making posts and advertisements to help promote South Alabama athletics and engage fan involvement.

On-air, he is the play-by-play for women’s basketball and the “Voice of Jags Softball.” For football, he is the pregame and halftime host. He also engineers and produces football games.

Crabtree has figured out how to master this art form. But it was not always that easy. In fact, when he first attended South Alabama, he was in school to become a doctor.

“I wanted to be an orthopedic surgeon,” Crabtree said, “I broke a lot of bones growing up and I was like, ‘I want to go fix bones.’”

Crabtree, once enrolled in pre-med classes, quickly realized becoming a doctor was not for him.

“Communications was always my backup,” Crabtree said, although he admits he never imagined he would one day want to change his major to a field so different than orthopedic surgery.

“I couldn’t do it,” he said about his pre-med classes. “Really, I think it was because it was the first time I’d ever been challenged. I went through high school and everything was fine. My prerequisites were all fine. And then I was doing the pre-med classes.”

Crabtree struggled with what to do after he came to the point where he knew something needed to change.

“I didn’t know what to do,” Crabtree said, “I caved.”

His next move was switching to print journalism. Crabtree even worked for the Vanguard for three years. In spring of 2014, the semester before he was set to graduate with a print journalism degree, he again felt unsure about finishing out that degree.

Most people, a semester before they are supposed to graduate, and had already switched their major once would probably stick it out just to get their diploma. Fortunately for Crabtree, he had another interest to pursue.

He began volunteering his time at the Prowl, a student run radio station, in July of 2013. It was not until February of 2014 that he gave up his job with the Vanguard to focus on the broadcast aspect of journalism with the Prowl.

“One month later, South hired me. I got really, really lucky,” Crabtree admitted.

For anyone who has listened to his broadcast, ‘lucky’ would not be the word one would use to describe his situation, but rather ‘talent’. The lucky one is South to have such a strong voice and passionate sports enthusiast to work with.

But how did Crabtree become the name he is today at South Alabama?

“A lot of it was self-taught,” Crabtree said. “The Prowl was huge because when I was there at the time, it was internet only. There was no budget, a lot of the stuff there was donated.”

It was nothing like ‘bone surgery’ for Crabtree to learn how to use all of the equipment, but definitely no walk in the park either.

“Some of it, if it was broken, I had to figure out how to fix it,” Crabtree explained. “I got really good at figuring out how things worked just by tinkering with it.”

After changing his major three times and teaching himself about broadcasting, Crabtree found his way to press boxes and press rows all over the country calling games for South Alabama. With his talent, he has the ability to go far in this career, but that is not necessarily what Crabtree wants.

“A lot of times people will say, ‘Oh, I’m going to see you on ESPN one day’ and I don’t really want to go to ESPN,” Crabtree said. “I really like the college level. I like working for a school, for a team.”

He feels that his role with South Alabama fits him well. He explains how impressive he finds it that so many athletes are able to manage going to all of their practices, workouts, and traveling for games while still managing their school work.

“It’s a lot of fun,”said Crabtree about his work.

Go online to JagNationTV.com to listen to Crabtree’s next live broadcast as he travels with the softball team to play a series against Texas Arlington.

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Inside Jaguar athletics: JT Crabtree