Sand shifting under his feet is no problem for beach volleyball player Maverick Hatch. But securing a firm financial footing to properly pursue his passion is proving problematic.
“Over the course of my tenure with the Canadian National Beach Volleyball Team (he joined in 2008) I have never received the necessary funding to achieve the international results that are expected of me – nor have I received the required support while competing internationally (coach, therapist, videographer) in order to give myself the best chance at achieving international success,” Hatch said from Toronto, where the former Vanier Towhees and Vancouver Island University Mariners standout relocated from Comox to train with the national team.
“This season, being the season after the Olympic Games, gives athletes like me, who have yet to break into the World Tour scene and establish themselves as a Main Draw player, an opportunity to do just that while many top teams take time to recover after the long Olympic push or only attend events that they enjoy most. This provides a great opportunity to qualify for the Main Draw and achieve great results at many FIVB World Tour events,” Hatch explained.
But if getting there is half the fun, the other half is funding.
“I find myself in a financial bind earlier than any other season to date – just four events into the season and I have exhausted my National Team funding ($5,400) and have spent all the money that I have earned during the offseason,” when the 26-year-old coached a U13 girls volleyball team and ran youth volleyball camps and clinics.
Hatch notes the typical FIVB World Tour season costs anywhere from $15,000 to $25,000 depending on the number of events attended, and whether or not teams qualify for the main draw. “Currently, every Canadian men’s team is seeded in the qualifier, not having enough points to gain entry directly into the Main Draw.
“This means we must travel to these events (thus far two events have been held in China, the third was in Argentina, and the next are in Netherlands, Rome, Poland and Switzerland, to name a few. The season continues into December this year) and compete in the single elimination qualifier in order to gain entry into the Main Draw,” said Hatch, who along with partner Sam Schachter won the 2012 Canadian beach volleyball championship.
“Qualification tournaments are two rounds – once you lose, you’re eliminated, only the final eight teams gain entry to the MD. Once teams qualify for the MD their hotel and food expenses are covered up until the morning after they are eliminated,” Hatch explained.
“To date, I have qualified three times while competing in 12 FIVB tournaments. My best result, ninth, came in 2011 at the Quebec event– I have two 25th-place finishes as well.
“I’ve lived in Toronto for the past four years and although I’ve created a good network of friends and supporters here, the opportunity to connect with friends and family back home for fundraising help and sponsorship opportunities is slim to none,” Hatch said. “As a beach national team athlete we have been required to live and train full-time in Toronto in order to receive our minimal national team funding – but things have changed for 2014.
“In 2014, athletes who achieve three 17th-place finishes or better will be automatically carded (selected to the national team) and allowed to live and train wherever they choose. For me, this is simple. I will choose to live and train out west,” Hatch said.
“My goal is to start a western training centre in Vancouver in order to provide opportunities for West Coast athletes to be identified by the beach national team and grow the level of elite training on the West Coast.
“The ability to leverage the relationships I have within the volleyball community on the West Coast is HUGE and I believe by achieving the required three 17th-place finishes I will provide a great opportunity to not only help West Coast athletes, but also grow the sport of beach volleyball across Canada,” said the 6′,5″, 202-pound athlete, who brings a 90-plus km/h spin serve to the beach along with a big presence at the net.
Hatch notes the Adopt an Athlete program can provide funding, and urges people to check out complete details on his blog at http://bit.ly/ZISfl9.
“As much as this program will immediately help me this season, donations also have the potential to assist me in doing something amazing for the sport of beach volleyball in Canada.
“Not all, but most, Canadian beach volleyball athletes retire and begin their lives outside the sport, but I’ve always had the vision and dream of starting something big to benefit the sport and future athletes,” Hatch said.
With the 2015 Pan Am Games upcoming in Toronto in July and the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio in August on the calendar, Hatch is hoping to hear from hometown supporters and those all across the country as he strives to represent Canada to the best of his ability and at the highest level of his sport.