Playing it forward is something that professional soccer player Ashley Hatch is all about. Coming to Australia from a successful season as US National Women’s Soccer League 2017 Rookie of the Year, and on loan from North Carolina Courage, Ashley plays forward for the Melbourne City Football Club W-League as its newest international member.
When recruited to play for the Melbourne team, she said, “Yes. Australia is awesome!”
Ashley Hatch, twenty-two years and a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, gravitated to soccer at an early age. She laughs, “I was too hyper for tennis and needed to do more running.”
And she’s been running ever since. She competed in track events and played forward for her high school state championship soccer team in Gilbert, Arizona, before joining women’s soccer at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. She finished her senior year at BYU on the 2016 All-American team before being chosen as the No. 2 overall draft pick of the National Women’s Soccer League with the North Carolina Courage.
To play professional soccer is something Ashley has always wanted, but it wasn’t easy, and in her words, “I’ve had my share of ups and downs.”
She remembers some people, when learning of her goals, responding, “Oh, that’s so cute, like OK—good luck with that.”
Now as a professional, Ashley wants to “pay it forward by playing it forward.” She feels that one of the greatest rewards of playing at this level is interacting with younger girls who also have dreams.
“To see the excitement in their eyes that what you’re doing is a possibility for them in the future is probably the greatest reward and responsibility—to influence them for the better,” says Ashley. “I tell them that how you think of yourself is critical. Having confidence and belief in your unique talents is what’s most important. Don’t compare. Focus on your own strengths and dream big.”
Looking back on the years of hard work, practice, and dedication, she credits her family and her faith in Christ for influencing her to become her best self.
“My family is a huge part of my life. They are my support system and have always believed in me,” says Ashley. “We are very close. When I was younger, our weekends as a family were always filled with sporting events and Church events.
“Growing up there was always a big issue of playing on Sundays, and it’s nice to say that before I went professional, I never played sports on Sunday.”
Ashley continues: “Looking back, I can say that my parents were right. The Sabbath day is important not only for your spirit and to be close to your family—it gives your mind and body a chance to recover. As an athlete, it’s a huge relief.”
She also acknowledges how her faith in Christ has influenced her every role as an athlete, student, sister, daughter, and friend. “My faith in Christ has made me the person I am today and has given me the confidence needed to go out and try to live the life God wants me to live.”
That life is now on loan with the Melbourne City Football Club W-League, and Ashley is loving every minute. Coming to Australia gives professional athletes opportunity to work year-round on skill development and game fitness.
Ashley Hatch loves playing soccer, but she also loves meeting new people, making memories and challenging herself in new ways. Mary Lou Retton, an Olympic gymnast, says, “Trophies carry dust. Memories last forever.” With Ashley’s “playing it forward” dedication and commitment, she’s sure to have both!