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Ashley Hatch ‘hopeful’ of Olympic chances

The former BYU star knows roster decisions are up to the coach, but with a new coach coming in, she feels better about her chances

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U.S. forward Ashley Hatch (7) kicks the ball away from Japan defender Moeka Minami during a SheBelieves Cup.

U.S. forward Ashley Hatch (7) kicks the ball away from Japan defender Moeka Minami during a SheBelieves Cup soccer match Sunday, Feb. 19, 2023, in Nashville, Tenn. The United States won 1-0. The former BYU star will be in Utah next week competing in a match as a member of the U.S. national team.

Mark Zaleski, Associated Press

Professional soccer and former BYU star Ashley Hatch is hopeful of her chances to make the United States’ Olympic roster next summer, she told reporters in a call organized by U.S. Soccer and Real Salt Lake Wednesday.

After being left off the World Cup roster earlier this year, she is optimistic that she’ll finally have the chance to represent the U.S. at a major international tournament, especially with a new coach taking over after Vlatko Andonovski resigned.

“I’m always going to be hopeful. That’s just the type of person I am, so we’ll see.” — Ashley Hatch on the possibility of representing the U.S. in the Summer Games

“I think having a new coach come in is huge,” she said. “I obviously wasn’t selected by the last one, so it gives me kind of a little bit of a renewed sense of hope that maybe this one will want me as part of the roster. But also, I understand that like there’s a lot of work that has to go in on my end to prove myself to whoever is the new coach.

“It’s definitely a process that all of us players continue to go through year after year. I’m always going to be hopeful. That’s just the type of person I am, so we’ll see.”

Hatch emphasized that roster decisions are ultimately up to the coach, and was unsure if she’d be selected for this October camp.

“It’s the coach’s decision to decide who makes the roster, so I’m gonna continue to do everything in my power to play the best soccer that I can play and be the best teammate and person that I can be,” she said. “Then at the end of the day, if I get the opportunity, I will gladly take that opportunity.”

Being left off the World Cup roster provided lessons in gratitude and perspective for Hatch, which she may have to lean on if her Olympic fate is similar.

“At the end of the day, I get to play soccer for a living and that’s kind of what I’ve been focusing on,” she said. “It’s not something I take for granted, and (it’s) something I really enjoy.”

Despite a disappointing World Cup finish for the U.S., Hatch is confident the team will rebound, regardless of if she’s on the roster.

“The U.S. women’s national team is the best team in the world, wants to be the best team in the world. I think that’s a rich tradition that will continue, and I know that every player and coach will continue to do their best to uphold that standard,” she said.

What did Ashley Hatch say about playing in Utah again?

Hatch and the U.S. women’s national team will play at America First Field on Oct. 26. Not only is she coming home to the state where she played collegiately, it is also where she made her first appearance for the national team in what was formerly Rio Tinto Stadium.

“Utah has a special place in my heart,” she said. “It’s always exciting to be able to come back and play in front of family and friends that still live there, and then obviously anytime I get to step out on the pitch wearing the crest is an honor and opportunity that I always look forward to.”

The games in Utah and in San Diego on Oct. 29 will be the second time she’s been called up to the national team after her World Cup snub. When she rejoined the team in September, she said there were no feelings of awkwardness.

“It’s great to be back with the national team. I personally didn’t feel any awkwardness,” she said. “My first day back at camp, I was just super excited to see all the players and the staff. I felt it was genuine that they were excited to see me as well.”

What did Hatch say about BYU soccer?

Though she’s seven seasons removed from her time as a Cougar, Hatch said she still enjoys following the program.

“I turn on the game every time I can watch and if I’m available, so it’s been really fun to follow them and their success,” she said. “I think being in a new conference is great for them with presenting new challenges and new teams, and so I’m super excited to continue to follow them the rest of the season.”

What did Hatch say about the return of the Utah Royals?

Hatch is excited for the Utah Royals’ return next season, and she thinks having the team back will be beneficial for girls playing youth soccer.

“I think it’s huge. I think Utah is a great state for soccer, especially for youth soccer. I think it’s really important for the youth, specifically the female soccer players, to be able to come and watch a professional team in their state, and so I’m really excited to have the Utah Royals back.”

Hatch doesn’t see herself joining the Royals in the near future due to her loyalty to her current team, the Washington Spirit, but she hasn’t ruled out it happening later in her career. The Spirit announced in June they had exercised her 2024 option, giving her at least one more season with the team.

“I was really excited to hear the return of the Royals. Mostly because when we come and play them, I can have a lot of family and friends to come and visit, and I love playing in Utah. And I think it’s a great market for a women’s professional soccer team. At the moment, I’m pretty loyal to the Spirit, but who knows maybe further down the road in my career. I don’t think it would be a bad place to end up but we’ll see.”

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United States’ Ashley Hatch looks on prior to an international friendly soccer match against Nigeria, Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2022, in Washington. Hatch will be competing with the U.S. national team again next week in Utah.

Julio Cortez, Associated Press