When Ashley Hatch took the field on June 18, the world didn’t know the U.S. women’s national team roster. But Hatch did — and she knew she wasn’t on it.
So as the 28-year-old forward suited up for the Washington Spirit, she felt like she was “suffering in silence,” she said on the latest episode of the “Snacks” podcast.
Ahead of the 2023 World Cup, Hatch received a call from USWNT coach Vlatko Andonovski, who let her know that she would not be making the trip to Australia and New Zealand. But the public announcement wouldn’t come until the following week, which left Hatch in limbo.
Just one day after Hatch’s call with Andonovski, the Spirit were scheduled to fly to Kansas City to face the Current. Hatch asked if she could postpone her own flight by one day, so she could process the “really difficult” emotions that came along with the World Cup snub. Four of her NWSL teammates — Trinity Rodman, Ashley Sanchez, Andi Sullivan and Aubrey Kingsbury — had made the cut.
“I was aware that my teammates had made it and I didn’t want to take away from their incredible accomplishment,” she said. “So I actually had a phone call with our coach. And I was like, ‘I think it’s best for me, but also best for the team if I just come a day later. I need a little bit of extra space.’ I also don’t want to be this dark cloud looming over these four other players who made it for the first time and I know the team wants to celebrate them.”
Hatch gave credit to the Spirit coaching staff and her teammates for giving her the space she needed to cope with the loss of her World Cup dream. In the two years leading up to the tournament, she had been a regular feature on the USWNT roster.
A solo training session at the Spirit facility helped her get back on track. She flew out to Kansas City the next day to join the team for the road match.
“I needed to find my purpose and re-center myself and also step out on the field without any pressure or any eyeballs from anyone,” she said.
Still, throwing herself back into the spotlight proved difficult, even though the wider public did not yet know about the USWNT roster. She played the first 45 minutes of hte match, but she asked to be removed after halftime.
“It was really difficult. It almost felt like I was suffering in silence because the whole world didn’t know yet,” Hatch said. “It was a lot. I actually ended up asking if I could be subbed at halftime, just because I couldn’t take it emotionally and mentally. But I was proud of myself for trying and taking that step.”
For the past four years, Hatch has worked with a mental performance coach, which helped her navigate her feelings about the snub.
“I feel like if I was younger in this situation, I probably would have pushed through a lot more pain,” she said. “I still pushed through some pain, but I knew how much pain to push through in order to get myself in a better spot.”