Monday, June 24, 2024

Ashley Hatch is on a mission to make sure nobody feels alone ‘in the good, the bad, the ugly’

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Ashley Hatch is striving to create a community where no one feels alone through her latest venture off the soccer pitch.

The former BYU Cougar recently launched “The Ditto Podcast” with her mental performance coach, Matt Moore, who is based in Utah. Together, Hatch and Moore discuss topics related to mental health and holistic well-being and how they exist in the world of sports.

On the podcast, Hatch shares personal applications of the topics and tools Moore teaches. She says she hopes listeners will hear her and her guests’ stories and walk away thinking, “ditto.”

Hatch sat down with the Deseret News on Saturday following her Washington Spirit’s 1-0 victory over the Utah Royals to discuss the podcast.

Note: This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Deseret News: I saw you hug Michele Vasconcelos after the game. How fun is it to be reunited with former BYU teammates and to watch former Cougars in the NWSL?

Ashley Hatch: It’s really cool. It’s fun. I feel like it’s cool to see a lot more players coming out of BYU and playing in the league, and it’s always fun when we’re not playing them. I’m always cheering them on and hoping that they continue to grow.

DN: Why start a podcast now?

AH: It’s something that my mental performance coach and I have talked about, and it’s taken me a while to feel confident enough to do it. But our purpose is what kind of helped me get over the confidence of like, “Oh, I don’t know if people are gonna care what I have to say,” but I’m really passionate about mental health and just overall holistic well-being.

I feel like it could help a lot of people and help people not feel so alone in a lot of things we talk about. I really enjoyed it. It’s been a goal of mine is to push myself to grow this year, and I feel like this is a way that I’ve been able to push myself to grow.

DN: Were you nervous at all to be vulnerable and share personal stories through it?

AH: One hundred percent. I think that’s why I said no for so long, like let’s not do it. Then finally I was like, “No, if I can be vulnerable, then I can maybe help other people feel connected,” and also, it’s been really fun inviting guests on and kind of hearing their stories and feeling connected with them as well. So it’s been really fun.

DN: What’s been your favorite episode or topic that you’ve discussed so far?

AH: That’s a hard one. I feel like our first episode on confidence was a good one. I really enjoyed that just because I feel like every episode we had since then, the things we’ve talked about have applied, especially talking to Aubrey (Kingsbury) and her preparation and how her preparation feeds her confidence. I feel like that was a good base foundation to start with because it’s bled into all of our conversations.

DN: I really love that last episode with Aubrey. You guys had a great discussion about faith. You talked about your teammate Bible studies and pregame prayers. What are those like?

AH: They’re all really fun. On game days, it’s usually us and the other team, which is I feel pretty unique because it’s just a chance for us to come together and realize that there’s more to life than soccer. I feel like it really puts me in a good headspace and perspective before stepping out onto the pitch, just being unified with our teammates but also the the other team, so that’s really fun.

Then throughout the week, Bible study whenever we have time, our chaplains come together, and we usually study a passage in the Bible. And same thing, just gives us more perspective, and it’s fun to be a part of that group and just feel connected in a different way.

DN: How do you think that affects your well-being?

AH: Oh, it helps so much. I feel like every time I go to Bible study or have pregame chapel or prayer, the messages just always resonate, and I feel like I’m reminded of them during the game, after the game, throughout the week. Those small dosages of perspective are really helpful.

DN: What made you decide to start working with Matt in the first place?

AH: I think it was in 2019. I just kind of felt like my mental side of my game could improve. I felt like I was overthinking a lot of my play.

Just as an athlete, you want to do anything you can to get 1% better and I was like “I feel like this is an area I can really improve in,” and so actually he’s my husband’s cousin. He came out to one of our games at the SoccerPlex, and that’s when I was introduced to him. I feel like being able to meet him and talk to him helped kind of initiate that relationship. Then I reached out, and I was like, “Hey, can you help me?” We’ve been working together since.

DN: We’ve talked about how last year was a difficult year after being left off the U.S. World Cup roster. How did Matt help you through that, or how have the things that you and Matt have discussed on the podcast helped you through that?

AH: I think the foundation that I’ve been able to create with Matt is what really helped me through last year. I feel like if I had started working with Matt after such a heartbreaking event in my career, it would have been a lot harder to kind of climb out of that hole. But because I already had that foundation, I was able to work through it.

I feel like I knew myself a lot better, and my self-awareness was just really good so I was able to communicate more like what I needed from those around me and how I felt like I needed to be supported. I was surrounded by such amazing staff and coaches and players that they all really helped, and so it was tough. But I think that foundation that I built with that was what really helped me.

Washington Spirit attacker Ashley Hatch (33) and Utah Royals defender Ana Tejada (17) chase after the ball in a women’s soccer match at America First Field in Sandy on Saturday, June 8, 2024. Hatch previously played for Brigham Young University. | Megan Nielsen, Deseret News

DN: What would your advice be to someone who is going to work with a mental performance coach or mental health provider for the first time?

AH: My advice would be just to be open to it. I think sometimes it’s hard to find the right person to work with because obviously you need to be able to have a good, trusting relationship.

I know some of the things that Matt has taught me, especially, was like breathing and all that kind of stuff, it can feel weird at first. But if you really give it a try and just like give yourself some grace because it’s hard at first, I promise it will help, and don’t wait until like you’re going through something hard to work on it.

I think searching out for that help is really important. It’s just another part of your game that you can continue to improve.

DN: Mental Health Awareness Month was last month. How important is it from your perspective to give your mental health the same intention as your physical health?

AH: I think it’s extremely important. We talk to ourselves. Our mental side of the game is always there no matter if we give it the attention that it deserves or not. I think it’s really important to continue to remind people to take care of their mental health because it’s only going to benefit them.

DN: What do you hope listeners ultimately take away from listening to “Ditto”?

AH: I just hope they feel connected and not so alone in the good, the bad, the ugly. I think we all have different stories, but we can relate to similar feelings or similar trials. We all go through ups and downs, and so, I just want everyone who listens to feel connected and to feel like they have hope with whatever they’re going through in their life.

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