T.J. Crater joined the Washington staff right at the end of 2011, coaching the Husky throwers over the next four seasons during which time his throwers earned seven NCAA Championship bids and posted twenty new marks into the UW top-10 lists.
A native of East Wenatchee, Washington, Crater got his coaching start at Central Washington University, earning national honors, before moving on to the D-I level at the University of Nevada, and then on to the throws coach at Penn State University, where from 2009 to 2011 he helped numerous Nittany Lions to NCAA podium finishes.
During his time at Penn State, Crater also began coaching world-class professional shot putter Ryan Whiting, a partnership that continued through Crater's move to Seattle. Whiting was a finalist at the 2012 Olympic Games in London and the gold medalist at the 2012 and 2014 World Indoor Championships to go with a silver at the 2013 World Outdoor Championships.
While rebuilding the depth of Washington’s throwers through excellent recruiting classes, Crater continued Washington’s javelin run, with five different men's javelin throwers making NCAAs during Crater's time at UW.
Curtis Clauson was the latest in a long line of breakthrough javelin throwers when he had a seven-foot PR at the 2015 Pac-12 meet to finish third and then another 13-foot PR at NCAA Prelims to make his first NCAA Championships, where he would finish ninth overall. Quinn Hale reached the NCAA podium with a fifth-place in 2014, capping a terrific season for the junior who had not made NCAAs in his first two years.
Along with Clauson and Hale, Crater coached Jimmy Brookman to consecutive Second Team All-America honors in 2012 and 2013, and Carson Fuller has made it to the NCAA finals as a freshman and sophomore in 2013 and 2014. Joe Zimmerman was Pac-12 runner-up in 2013 and 2012 in his two years working with Crater and All-America honorable mention in 2013.
Jordin Seekins graduated with her best season in 2013, scoring at Pac-12s for the first time and advancing to West Prelims in the javelin, setting a PR of 151-3 that ranked sixth in UW history. In Crater’s first year in 2012, senior Angus Taylor extended his hammer throw PR to 204-2, ranking seventh in UW history, and he placed 15th at West Prelims.
The 2015 season also saw Crater's rebuilding of the program's depth begin to pay off. Redshirt freshman Gina Flint became the first UW woman to score at Pac-12s in the shot put since 2004 and first to score in the discus since 2011, advancing to NCAA West Preliminaries in both events. Junior transfer Frank Catelli took fourth in the Pac-12 men's discus, and had the best shot put by a Husky since 2000.
In Crater's three seasons at Penn State, his athletes combined for 11 All-America honors and five Big Ten Conference titles. Three of Crater's throwers earned third-place finishes in their events at either the NCAA Indoor or Outdoor Championships, and under Crater's watch, twenty new marks were written into the Penn State Top-10 outdoor records or Top-5 indoor lists.
In 2011, Penn State had two senior shot putters among the nine finalists at the NCAA Outdoor Championships. Joe Kovacs took third overall with a best of 62-2 ¼ and Blake Eaton was ninth at 60-9 ¼. Earlier in the spring, Eaton had won his second straight Big Ten title, with Kovacs taking second. In 2010 it was Eaton who was third at the NCAA Outdoor meet in the shot put, and at NCAA Indoors in 2010, again it was Kovacs who placed third overall, while Eaton was eighth. Kovacs has since gone on to win the 2014 U.S. national outdoor title in the shot put, giving Crater two former pupils to hold the crown.
On the women's side, Karlee McQuillen captured the Big Ten javelin title in 2011, and three more Nittany Lion javelin throwers would place third, fifth, and seventh behind her. McQuillen and freshman Laura Loht would both advance to the NCAA Outdoor meet, placing 10th and 15th, respectively. In 2010, McQuillen was third in the javelin at NCAAs, throwing a season-best 171-2.
During Crater's first season, Tanner Evak won the Big Ten men's javelin title, and Emma Schmelzer earned Big Ten Field Athlete of the Championship honors, by virtue of scoring 21 individual points with second-place finishes in the discus and hammer, and a fourth-place effort in the shot. Kim Hanslovan set the women's school record in the javelin at 178-4 and advanced to nationals.
Prior to Penn State, Crater spent the 2007-08 season at the University of Nevada. That year was highlighted by his work with Inger Appanaitis, who placed 13th in the javelin at the 2008 NCAA Championships, the best finish ever by a Nevada thrower, and then went on to place 18th at the 2008 U.S. Olympic Trials. Appanaitis also won the WAC javelin title and scored in all four throwing events at conference to finish as the High Point Winner for the championship. Sophomore Constance McAlman also was a West Regional qualifier in the discus and hammer throw, placing top-12 in both.
Crater's coaching career got its start at Central Washington University in Ellensburg, Washington, where he spent four seasons. At Central, Crater was named the 2007 USTFCCCA Division II National Men's Assistant Track and Field Coach of the Year after also winning the West Region honor. Crater coached 10 NCAA qualifiers who combined for 30 national qualifying performances. He also coached nine All-Americans at the Division II level and 12 Great Northwest Athletic Conference individual champions.
Crater helped Cameron Neel to five All-America honors and eight GNAC titles at Central Washington. Neel was named NCAA West Region Athlete of the Year in 2007. His athletes set eight conference records.
A four-year letterwinner for the University of Idaho from 1998-2002, Crater was a five-time All-Big West Conference performer, earning the distinction three times in the hammer throw and twice in the shot put. Crater also hit the NCAA qualifying standard in the weight throw indoors in 2002.
Crater attended Eastmont High in East Wenatchee and received his Bachelor's degree from Idaho with a double major in forest resources administration and forest products timber harvesting.
Crater and his wife, Shery, welcomed their first daughter, Baylee, in December of 2010.