Since switching from baseball to volleyball way back in high school, Maverick Hatch has never looked back. Now he’s looking ahead – to the Summer Olympics.
Hatch is one of Canada’s top beach volleyball players and, along with partner Sam Schachter of Richmond Hill, Ont., has his sights set on a trip to London for the 2012 Summer Games or, more realistically, to Rio for the 2016 Olympics.
The team is coming off a highly successful 2011 season which saw Hatch collect seven tournament gold medals (including a “double crown” sweep of two of Canada’s biggest beach volleyball events, the Center of Gravity and Vancouver Open), make finals in two Swiss tourneys and win silver at the Canadian national championships.
“A highlight would definitely be finishing ninth in Quebec, the first Canadian FIVB World Tour tournament in Canada since 2006,” Hatch said. “It was our first top 10 FIVB result and happened in our first year on tour, and as a team.”
The 24-year-old Hatch was born in Comox and now lives in Toronto, where he is in his third year at the national team training centre. The 6′,7″, 205-pound athlete is an exciting player to watch, bringing a 90 k/mh-plus spin serve and big presence at the net to the beach.
Now in his off-season, a minor knee surgery has knocked one day off his five-day-a-week training regime in Toronto, but he still coaches two indoor volleyball teams and a beach volleyball team. Heading into an Olympic qualifying year, Hatch will begin training on the sand (five days a week) on Nov. 21.
Hatch spent his early years in Nova Scotia. “We moved back to the Comox Valley when I was in Grade 5 (and) I attended Puntledge Park Elementary, Lake Trail Middle, then G.P. Vanier,” he recalls.
“After graduation I was recruited to Vancouver Island University (formerly Malaspina University College). I originally wanted to go to Malaspina for baseball but as I grew older and grew taller, I fell in love with volleyball and after a decent high school career I ended up attending Malaspina for volleyball.”
Hatch doesn’t recall being super tall as a child. “The way I remember it, I grew consistently over a long period of time and as I started to grow above 6’3″, volleyball became my sport of choice after having played baseball for 12 years of my life.”
Hatch’s rise to the upper echelons of Canadian beach volleyball was a gradual process. “In high school I was always looked upon to play a major role on my team and in Grade 12 I was named team captain. However I was never seen as a top player in my age group. If it weren’t for Brian McAskill coaching me at high school, I never would have continued playing volleyball at a post-secondary level.
“Brian was the assistant coach at Malaspina so I was lucky to have been coached by him as it led me to Malaspina, and also to Chris Densmore. Both coaches played a major role in my development as a player and no matter where I end up I will always remember that. I still turn to them for advice and help when needed. It’s nice to know that even though they haven’t coached me in years that they’ll still be there for me,” Hatch said, adding that his parents have always been his two biggest boosters.
Hatch’s road to the national team began shortly after his first year of college. “I liked playing (volleyball) but always said I was an indoor player. It wasn’t until my second year at Malaspina when I finally started taking beach seriously. I moved to Victoria to train with some of the best athletes in Canada and the following year moved to Vancouver so I could be as close to the beach scene in B.C. as possible,” Hatch said.
“In my third and final year at Malaspina I was named CCAA All-Canadian – a goal I had set at the beginning of the year – as well as Mariner Male Athlete of the Year. I bring both plaques with me wherever I am and they hang on my wall to remind me that I can achieve the goals I set and to never forget about my past,” Hatch said.
Hatch left Malaspina to pursue CIS volleyball at Brandon University in Manitoba, but injuries and homesickness led him to back to B.C. after his first semester. “Another factor in my decision to leave university was I had been invited to try out for the beach national team,” he recalls
“Earlier that year I had torn my meniscus in my knee, which kept me out of beach nationals, but I sent Volleyball Canada’s beach technical director an e-mail asking for an invite to the camp, promising I would not disappoint. Luckily for me my knee held up and I was able to capture a spot on the team.
“That was all in 2008, making 2009 my first year on the national team. Also in 2009 was the Canada Summer Games, which … was my first time playing in any Canada or BC Summer Games. I was never a member of Team BC. I was cut in Grade 10 and never tried out again. I made Team BC beach in 2007 but due to personal reasons I had to step away from the team,” Hatch recalls.
“At Canada Games my partner and I were one of three favoured teams to win gold and unfortunately we came up short, winning bronze in a close match. The experience was unforgettable and I’m glad to have had that opportunity, as it was my last chance to ever play for my home province.”
Hatch said moving to Toronto to dedicate himself full time to beach volleyball is another great opportunity. “We have access to some of the best trainers, nutritionist, and coaches in Canada as well as top-of-the-line training equipment and facilities. Along with the Canadian Sport Center Ontario we are evolving the Canadian beach volleyball program into one of the best in the world,” said Hatch.
The former Vanier Towhee notes travelling the world to compete and qualify for events such as the Olympics (luckily the 2015 Pan Am Games are in Toronto) is “ridiculously expensive – a full season on the tour can cost in excess of $10,000.” And while national team members receive some funding from Volleyball Canada, sponsors are needed to make life on the road possible.
This past season Hatch had Spix YYZ, Advantage 4 Athletes and Bleachers with him, and he is always looking for more backers. He has many sponsor packages, and welcomes those interested to e-mail Promotion@hatch-schachter.com, visit www.hatch-schachter.com or phone him at 250-377-5460 for details.
With goals of gold at the Pan Am and Olympic Games, Hatch will be one busy beach volleyball player in the years to come. And down the road, his travels will serve him well. “Once I’m finished with beach volleyball I would love to get into coaching, but I have always had a passion for adventure tourism,” he said.
For more on the talented athlete, check out maverickhatch.com.