A professional athlete's hard-earned wisdom on finding hope after disappointment

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Ashley Hatch relaxing.

Ashley Hatch was recently a guest on the All In podcast. Find the full episode here and read a brief recap below to learn more about how Ashley finds the strength to overcome disappointment.

Sports fans were shocked and puzzled when Ashley Hatch wasn’t included in the United States Women’s National Soccer Team World Cup roster. Ashley is a former BYU soccer star, forward for the Washington Spirit, forward for the National Women’s Soccer League, and winner of the NWSL Golden Boot award in 2021. Being excluded from something she’d worked so hard for devastated Ashley, but she found strength in her connection to Heavenly Father and her identity as a child of God. Her example shows how we can overcome our own disappointments.

Ashley has always had a strong work ethic. “I love putting in effort,” she says. “My dad did a really good job of teaching my sister and me, that it’s an opportunity to work hard, and it's a good thing. … I feel like having that perspective really helped me to just kind of like want to keep working hard, always wanting to get better, never being complacent.”

So after putting in consistent effort for over a year and a half to make the World Cup roster, Ashley felt disheartened to have not been included. “It is so hard to show up to practice every day, or to go through a whole season and not make the playoffs and feel like you've failed,” Ashley says. “To feel like everything, all the work you've put into this one sport has amounted to nothing, [or to ask] what's your purpose in life, it can be really difficult if you don't have something else to believe in or put your worth in.”

But luckily for Ashley, she does know what she believes in and who she is. “I know that I'm worth more than [just] a soccer player,” she says. “I think having a testimony in the plan of salvation and our purpose here on Earth is how I'm able to have that perspective. I'm super grateful for that knowledge and my testimony, that's ultimately what helped me get through the disappointment of the World Cup.”

People in Ashley’s life became ministering angels which also helped her through her disappointment.

“Heavenly Father answered my prayers through all the people around me who showed so much support. I was able to receive so much strength from my husband, from my family members, from my teammates, from my coaching staff at the Washington Spirit, and then through so many strangers that reached out and shared their disappointment as well,” she says.

Fellow Christian soccer players have also given Ashley support during this and other trials in her career. They remind each other of shared beliefs and bring comfort through prayer and Bible study. “It gives me a sense of belonging when we can share those beliefs and share that we all have this worth that's not attached to our performance on the field,” she says.

Ashley has developed a mantra for when she’s dealing with disappointment. “[Disappointment is] an opportunity to either lean into your faith, lean into your testimony, or it's an opportunity to lean away or push it away,” she says.

Pushing away something that meant so much to her wasn’t what Ashley wanted to do, so instead she reevaluated the priorities in her life and remembered that while soccer is really important to her, her testimony means more. She has a life that she loves and is working towards creating a family. Letting one disappointment hurt all of those wonderful aspects of her life wasn’t in her best interests.

“I have so much to be grateful for, and this one thing didn't go my way. I didn't feel like it deserved more attention than everything I was grateful for,” she says.

Ashley plans to continue working hard and giving her best performance every time as she strives for her next goal: the United States Olympic roster. However, no matter what happens, she wants to keep her focus on the bigger picture and lean on someone more powerful than she is, her Heavenly Father. She knows her divine identity as His daughter, and whether or not she makes the Olympic roster that fact will never change.

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