Meet The TCI Staff

Robert MacRae is the owner of The Clemson Insider. He serves as publisher and recruiting editor for the site. MacRae started TCI in March of 2009 and has covered Clemson recruiting since 2003. He graduated from Clemson University in 1987. MacRae can be heard each Tuesday night at 9:05 with Ron Scarborough on The Evening Sports Page on WRIX 93.1.

Will Vandervort is our senior writer and editor at TCI. Vandervort is an award-winning sportswriter and editor, who, before joining TCI in September of 2012, worked as the Editor for IPTAY Media. He covered Clemson University Athletics and wrote for the athletic department’s Web site and newsletter. Vandervort was also an editor for the athletic department’s magazine, Orange: The Experience. Besides his duties as an editor and writer, Vandervort was also the co-host of the The Tiger Pregame Show, a three-hour radio show on Clemson Game Days that airs on Clemson’s Flagship Station WCCP-FM. He was also a guest host for ESPN Upstate’s Straight Up with Sturg. Vandervort has been a sportswriter and editor for 19 years at newspapers and Web sites in Georgia and South Carolina. He has covered college football in the ACC and the SEC for most of that time as well as covering small college football and the NFL. Vandervort has covered Clemson University sports since 2004, first as a editor / beat writer for the The (Seneca) Journal and then as the editor for IPTAY Media.

Gavin Oliver joined the TCI staff in May of 2016. Oliver, whose father, Greg, has been a respected journalist in the Upstate of South Carolina for many years, joins The Clemson Insider Staff as full-time staff writer. Oliver, who graduated from Clemson University, is the recruiting writer for TCI as well as helps our staff cover the ins and outs of the Clemson football, basketball and baseball programs. Though Oliver is fresh out of college, he has already built up plenty of experience in the business. While attending classes full-time as an English major, he worked as a freelance writer for The Journal in Seneca, S.C. from 2012-’16. He covered high school sporting events, including high school football, as well as Clemson football, basketball and baseball games. Oliver was also a correspondent for IPTAY Media from 2012-’15, as he wrote feature stories covering all the sports at Clemson in Orange: The Experience the Magazine, plus he was a regular contributor for IPTAY’s Web site, My Orange In 2014, Oliver worked as an intern and correspondent for Tiger, where he served in those capacities until just recently. At Tiger Illustrated, Oliver wrote feature stories, game previews, practice notes and then game day questions and answer sessions with Clemson’s three coordinators. In 2015, Oliver had an internship with the Greenville Swamp Rabbits hockey team in Greenville, S.C. He worked in the public relations office there as he was mostly in charge of writing game recaps.

William Qualkinbush joined the TCI staff in July of 2013 and serves as a regular writer as well as writes a blog and does video work. Qualkinbush comes to The Clemson Insider after a six-year stint as a freelance writer in college, where he attended Clemson University. The Clemson graduate has wrote for IPTAY Media, producing content on every athletic program on campus. He has also covered high school and Clemson sports for The Daily Journal in Seneca, SC since 2007. Qualkinbush is also involved with WCCP-FM 104.9 in Clemson – the university’s flagship station for Clemson Athletics. He is the producer and co-host for The Mickey Plyler Show, which airs from 6-9 on weekday mornings, and the host of Qualk Talk, which airs from 10-noon on Saturdays. In addition, Qualkinbush spent six years as a student assistant and graduate assistant in the Clemson Sports Information Department, where he developed relationships with many coaches and student-athletes. He also does public address work for the Clemson baseball team and has filled PA roles in the Clemson area in a variety of capacities for several years.

Trey McCurry joined the staff in July of 2010 and serves as a writer that helps with both baseball and football coverage. McCurry has been around Clemson athletics his entire life as he grew attending most Clemson sporting events. As an undergrad at Clemson, he worked as an equipment manager with the football team working with tight ends and kickers. He graduated from Clemson with a degree in Sports Management with a business minor in December of 2007. After graduation, McCurry joined the Clemson Sports Information Office as a graduate assistant. For two years, he worked with the football, baseball, and men’s soccer teams. During that time, he assisted in various tasks around the office varying from arranging interviews to assisting in the publication of media guides to writing articles for football game programs.

Kaila Burns-Heffner, a senior at Clemson University, joined the TCI staff in August of 2014.  She helps with writing and video productions. At Clemson, Burns-Heffner studies Sports Communication and minors in Entrepreneurship. She is very involved with her major as she serves as a Communication Ambassador and is the Sports Communication representative for the Dean’s Undergraduate Student Advisory Board. Burns-Heffner started her sports journalism career when she interned with as a correspondent for Clemson Football the summer after her Freshman year. Since she began working with TCI, she has also been involved with several other internships simultaneously. She has worked alongside Clemson University’s media relations department as a multimedia journalist for Clemson News Now and What’s Happening Inside Clemson, interned with both the sports and news departments of Spartanburg’s CBS station (WSPA), and participated in the ESPNU Campus Connection program as a Clemson correspondent. Burns-Heffner is from Maryland, and she often returns home to help Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Steve Smith Sr. with his summer skills camps for kids as an operations volunteer for the ProCamps Worldwide organization. She also served as the Communication Director for a team in the Cal Ripken Collegiate Baseball Summer League in 2015. Burns-Heffner developed a deep passion for sports after growing up playing a multitude of sports while watching her father coach her brother in football. She plans to use that passion to drive her as she pursues a career in sports broadcasting.

Gabby Bates, a senior at Clemson University, joined the TCI staff in August of 2015. She helps with writing and video productions. As an undergrad, she is a sports communications major with a minor in athletic leadership. Though she is still working towards her degree, Bates comes to TCI with plenty of experience. She was a member of TigerVision, a Clemson student run television network, where she was a sports anchor for a newscast and the host and producer of her own sports talk show, The Extra Point. Bates plans on extending her education after she graduates from Clemson by getting her masters in journalism. Bates is from Williston, S.C., where she attended Jefferson Davis Academy, and lettered on the basketball team. She also worked at the Clemson Extension Office in Barnwell County during the summer months. Bates grew up in a Clemson Family and is a lifelong Tiger fan. She is a passionate sports enthusiast, who inspires to one day work in television, while turning her passion into her job.

Kevin Shroat, currently a junior at Clemson, joined the The Clemson Insider staff as an intern in August of 2016. Shroat will help TCI with both writing and video production. As an undergraduate, Shroat is a communication studies major with a management minor. While helping TCI with writing and video production, Shroat will also be interning with Fan Media Network as the official video correspondent for Clemson football. Throughout his tenure at Charlotte Catholic High School, Shroat played baseball and basketball while lettering in soccer. Being active is a major part his life and when he’s not in the library studying, he can be found at Fike Recreation Center or playing intramural football and basketball. Shroat is an avid sports fan, and while he’s still exploring career options, he hopes to one day pursue his dream as a sportswriter.

Alex Turri, currently a freshman at Clemson, joined the The Clemson Insider staff as an intern in August of 2016. Turri will help TCI with both writing and video production. Turri, a communications major, went to high school in Babylon, New York (Long Island), where he participated on many athletic teams, including football and lacrosse. He was a part of two county championships and a Long Island championship in lacrosse, and a county championship, along with another Long Island championship in football. The freshman also commentated on multiple sporting events throughout high school and was head rainmaker of the basketball team his senior year.

Olivia Garrison, a junior at Clemson University, joined the TCI staff in September 2016. As a daughter of two Clemson alumni, it was only right to call Clemson her home starting in 2014. Garrison’s passion for sports and all things Clemson began when she was very young, which played a part in her pursuit of a career in sports. She is a Sport Communications major with a branding minor, in hopes of one day becoming a face of college football. Garrison has had experience in different areas of sport communication. She interned with WCCP 105.5 The Roar, gaining experience in radio broadcasting and creating video content for social media and podcasts for their website. She also works for the men’s basketball team at Clemson as a student worker, where she manages schedules and projects for the coaches, distributes recruitment letter and fan mail, and helps plan and coordinate events. Garrison is from Easley, South Carolina and went to Easley High School where she ran varsity cross-country and track and played varsity basketball. Her passion for sports has only grown since then. She is more than excited for this journey with TCI and all that is to come.


Clemson football recruiting for the class of 2018 continues to heat up, but it’s never too early to take a peek ahead at the crop of prospects for 2019. In this part of our “Looking Ahead” feature, (…)