who dat? me dat.
I get asked all the time, "Hey, Cryssy, how'd you become a 49ers fan?"
Let me take y'all back to simpler days...
I was born & raised in the small town of Port Coquitlam (PoCo), a suburb just outside of Vancouver, British Columbia. Yes, I wrote the article I just linked to, lol. Being Canadian, I didn't really understand the National Football League. My family (who means EVERYTHING to me) would watch the Super Bowl every single year, but I only ever cheered for whichever team had a nicer jersey. I didn't play many sports competitively. I dabbled in soccer to appease my Italian roots. Except I definitely was a "diver" more than a player. Which honestly makes sense if you look at the Forza Azzurri squad over the years...I basically fit right in! All jokes aside, my main squeeze for a long time was hockey.
Like every good Canadian kid, I loved watching pucks fly into the net. And of course, hailing from Vancouver means I was all in on the Canucks. The "West Coast Express" was & will forever be my favourite line in hockey of all time. I LOVED Todd Bertuzzi. And if it weren't for that whole sucker punch BS, I would still be a die hard Nucks fan right now. Hockey would rule all. And maybe, just maybe, my Cryssy Canuck blog would be thriving right now. That's some alternate universe shiz, for sure.
Anyway, between Bert leaving Vancouver & the whole 2011 Stanley Cup Riot thing (thanks, Boston), my love for hockey began to fade.
That's when football showed up fashionably late into my life. I call this my "rebirth into sports", if you will. My sister married this amazing dude who loved the Cowgirls...I mean Cowboys, while she was a Tom Brady worshipper turned Pats fan. So in spite of her, I originally chose to cheer for the NY Giants because Eli Manning somehow was like kryptonite to New England. But then I started to take note of his facial expressions every time he was sacked. And I just couldn't stomach cheering for an Eastern team...#WestCoastBestCoast.
That same year, I met someone who eventually became my boyfriend. And his team happened to be the 49ers. Now around Vancouver, you don't see too many Niners fans. In fact, the whole damn city becomes a Seahawks fan whenever they are lucky enough to make the playoffs. Don't get me started on when they would win a SB...the amount of price tags on fresh hats the following week was disgusting. I never wanted to be one of those "fans". So yeah, I may have hopped on my bf's team wagon, but I still would rather cheer for my city's rival than my city's so-called "team". Plus, the experience of being a fan together--dressing up from head-to-toe in San Fran gear, rockin' our Bowman & Willis jerseys while holding hands at tailgates...that's a feeling I'll hold onto forever. If you've ever felt THAT, then being a fan means so much more than just the story of how you got there.
Fast forward several years & a few fantasy football leagues under my belt, my love for the game of football and for the 49ers was bigger than ever.
Eventually, the boy and I parted way. And it was a rocky situation, to say the least. But I kept the dog & carried on with the team. Because despite everything, following a team like the 49ers gave me a real purpose in my life. I realized how much I loved sports in general. In the duration of our relationship, I was completing my Bachelor of Arts Degree in Journalism. I even won an award for Sports Journalism. Everything I wrote about had to do with sports. It was like a fire ignited inside of me & I could visualize myself on the NFL sidelines, chatting with players and coaches, while living out an absolute dream.
It's crazy. You don't really understand why people come into your life until they're out of it. I believe that boy came into my life to show me my true calling (and also give me the best gift of all, my Puggle dog, Ruxin).
I wear my heart on my sleeve & I probably hold onto moments and memories more than most. So despite years of uncertainty, I held onto the team that once was the glue of our relationship. And I'm forever grateful that I did.
Before I graduated from university (June, 2017), I became a Broadcast Host and writer for 604 Now, a Vancouver-based blog. I was the Food & Events Editor, with a bit of Sports Reporter sprinkled on the side. In 2015, I attended my first ever NBA Canada Series Exhibition Game. I had full media access to both the Raptors and Clippers locker room. And for the first time ever, I got a tiny taste of what it would feel like to be a sports reporter, for real. I interviewed a handful of the Raps & I met Blake Griffin, who played for the Clips at the time. I was the only female reporter in that locker room, and despite an awkward entrance (that's a whole other story lol), Blake gave me an incredible sit-down interview. I still have the audio interview on my phone.
I never once felt nervous about interviewing these professional athletes, which I took as a MAJOR sign.
The following year, I attended the NBA series again, this time it was Raps vs. the Warriors. I met Kevin Durant, who was an absolute angel. And then I met Steph Curry...who, to say the least, wasn't what I had expected. He did not treat me with the respect I deserved. But I added that fuel to the constant fire inside of me & told myself that this experience will only make me stronger. And it did.
My gig at 604 Now led to another job opportunity. This time with a Junior B hockey team, the Delta Ice Hawks. During one of the NBA series games, I met Justin, a cameraman for the Ice Hawks & someone who quickly became my mentor in sports broadcasting. He asked if I'd like to come out and do some volunteer hosting for the team...on LIVE TV. I was a writer, but also hosted a weekly "What's Happening in Vancouver" segment for 604 Now via Facebook videos. It was pre-recorded, not live. So the thought of not having a script & just speaking to a live audience of viewers at home felt VERY strange. However, I embraced it with open arms and put in nearly two years with the team as Delta TV's hockey host on Tuesday Nights. My dad came with me to every single game. That's something I'll cherish forever.
And that experience opened my eyes to the world of sports broadcasting.
After working for another online blog (BC Sports Hub), this time specializing in BC amateur sports, I started researching schools & eventually landed on the College of Sports Media in Toronto. Remember, I'm from Vancouver. I had never lived anywhere else in Canada and my dad always grew me up to despise Toronto sports teams. But like an adrenaline rush, that fire inside of me was hungry for more. So I applied on a whim and to my surprise, I was accepted into the program which specialized in Sports Broadcasting.
After one year in the program, I felt ready to take the plunge into the sports broadcasting world. While writing is still a huge passion of mine, it would be an absolute dream to work in the NFL. My time writing for Sports Illustrated's All49ers gave me a platform to do just that, and now, I'm continuing to pursue my sideline reporter dream job by covering all things football while living in Arona, Italy.
My parents are both Italian and thanks to them, I have my citizenship, too. So, here I am, working for an esports company in the motorsport gaming industry while writing about my favourite sport on the side. It's been a journey to get here. I'm also a new mama to the most beautiful baby girl who I hope one day will see my hustle in sports and know that she is capable of anything in this life.
I'm proof of just that.
Anyway, hope you enjoy my stories that go beyond the gridiron!
Crystal has covered her favourite team, the San Francisco 49ers for Sports Illustrated's All49ers. She is a Content Creator and Journalist for Traxion, a subdivision of Motorsport Games. As a hobby, Crystal is following the 2023 European League of Football season and writing player features/news pieces. For any collaboration or business opportunities, please submit a form or contact her on Twitter: @crystalscuor