Spirit star’s future is bright, on and off the pitch

It’s always to great to have an idea what your future will hold, especially if it’s filled with special things. Washington Spirit star Ashley Hatch’s future is sure to include coaching soccer, a fun rivalry with her sister, and a loving husband.

In the present time, Hatch has experience with the USWNT and is playing in her third NWSL season following an accolade-filled career at Brigham Young University. She loved her time at the Utah university and thinks some of the preconceived notions about BYU are unfair. “The two misconceptions that initially come to my mind are that you have to be a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints to attend and the university’s honor code is forced upon the students,” Hatch said. “The first one is false because all are welcome to apply to BYU even though it is a private, church-owned university. I have made many wonderful friends during my time at BYU and many of them are not of my faith.”

“In regards to the honor code, a lot of people see it as restrictive or controlling since there are specific cliche college activities, such as drinking and using drugs, that are not allowed at BYU, along with other conduct. Every student reads and signs the honor code before attending BYU, agreeing to live by the standard. The honor code is set in place to help students have a wonderful college experience while upholding the high standards of BYU. My time at BYU was one that I will never forget. I learned so much about myself as a soccer player and as a person. I learned so many life long lessons, created endless memories, and met some pretty special people including my life partner. If it wasn’t for the opportunity I had to play soccer at BYU, I don’t think I would be playing the game I love for a living today.”

The life partner she mentioned is her husband, Jeffrey Van Buren. The couple was married earlier this year in Utah. “Married life is the best. As most pro athletes would tell you, it can be hard living apart from your loved ones for long periods of time but being 100% committed to my husband has been the best decision I have made to date,” she said. “I have been lucky enough to have him with me for most of the season before he leaves to continue his master’s program in the fall, but we have made the most of every day. Being married to Jeff has brought more meaning into my life along with a lot more laughs. So needless to say, I am loving married life!”

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Mr & Mrs. Van Buren ❤😍❤😘

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Utah is not only where her marriage began, but it could be the setting for her potential post-playing career. In 2018, Ashley joined Utah Valley University as a volunteer assistant coach. “I definitely see coaching of some sort being apart of my future. I have been involved in coaching and personal training ever since I was 16 yrs old. I love being able to help others excel at the game they love,” Ashley explained. “Coaching at UVU over the off-season while studying to get my C-license was such a great experience. I learned so much from the players and coaches around me. I was able to look at soccer through a different lens which also helped me become a better player.”

She was very familiar with one of the players she was around at UVU. Brianna, her younger sister, is a midfielder for the Wolverines. I asked Ashley what Brianna does on the pitch better than her at that age. After she joked that the older sister in her wanted to say there’s nothing, she admitted that wasn’t true. “Brianna is one of the best distributors on the field. She can find passes that most people can’t. Along with her ball distribution, she is also very composed on the ball under pressure,” Ashley said.

With the sisters sharing soccer as one of their passions, I assumed they were competitive with each other as children. “To say we were competitive growing up would be an understatement. When it came to soccer we both wanted to “outdo” the other in whatever it was. Whether it was who could juggle the most or who could hit the longest and most accurate long ball with both feet. We would practice our 1v1’s against each other all the time and it would get so competitive that my Dad would usually make us give each other a hug before we went home,” she laughed. “As we have both grown up and taken different paths in our soccer career, we have become each other’s biggest fans. We are still competitive when it comes to family fun and games but that is simply a family thing none of us will grow out of.”

Ashley’s current path includes trying to help the Washington Spirit get into the NWSL playoffs. “We have to do a better job of closing out games. We are a great team with so many talented weapons, but we need to do a better job of scoring the final goal or stopping the final attempt from our opponents,” she said. “For me, I need to score goals (she currently has four on the year). That is the best way I can help my team right now. We have chances to score, we need to put them in the back of the net. As we move forward and get another win, I think that will give us the momentum we need to make the playoff cut.”

Ashley Hatch and the club will have their next chance to get points tomorrow night when they take on first-place Portland Thorns FC at Providence Park. The match is set to kick off at 10:30 PM Eastern Time and will be live on Yahoo Sports.

Carson A Merk

Reporting live from Sin City, I have covered both RGVFC and Las Vegas Lights FC since their inceptions. I also write profiles to highlight players from the NCAA to USL to NWSL and everywhere in between.