By: Zach Hollingsworth
When Joe Hatcher, a senior business administration major and a member of the UMW men’s soccer team described his first time winning the Capital Athletic Conference (CAC) championship, he couldn’t stop smiling.
“I remember just being so nervous in the locker room since everyone was silent and focusing on the task at hand,” he said, about the team’s 2017 win. “I was substituted early in the game, and all I wanted to do was make my team happy, especially for the seniors who acted as my mentors. I wanted them to get their first CAC championship. The best part about the entire game was just storming the field and tackling all the senior players, and we just did not want to leave. We stayed and took photos in our new CAC champ shirts. It is one of the best moments I have had at this university.”
Throughout Hatcher’s college athletic career, the UMW men’s soccer team has won the CAC championship every year. Due to COVID-19, all fall sports were halted in 2021. This led the team to have a final win in the CAC before the closing of the university due to the pandemic.
“It was just one of those things,” he said. “It stings a little knowing we could not have the opportunity to go four straight years of winning, but we made our mark on the team, and that is all I could ask for.”
Although Hatcher’s senior season has been canceled, he is happy for all the memories he can reflect on. “Scoring the game-winning penalty kick against Frostburg State to send us to the CAC final against CNU was an indescribable feeling,” said Hatcher, about his sophomore year accomplishment.
The UMW men’s soccer team had the opportunity to visit Costa Rica. There, they were given the chance to play against three local youth academy teams. Hatcher shares this story as being one of his most prideful yet nerve-racking moments while being a UMW college athlete. It was a new experience for Hatcher.
“Both teams shared a love for the sport, and that was all that mattered,” he said.
Despite all of the positives Hatcher shared, there were other obstacles besides COVID-19.
“The hardest challenge related to the relationship between our teammates was that if we got too comfortable with our style of play, we could quickly become our own enemies, so we always had to come out strong,” said Hatcher.
Regardless of the game at stake, Hatcher felt his team could take on any challenges that stood in their path. He spoke fondly of the team’s high morale.
“We were constantly having fun and playing well,” said Hatcher. Hatcher was quick to praise his teammates, and he mentioned how they were willing to help out in any given situation. “These guys are the types of people you want around you for life,” said Hatcher.
Not only did the UMW men’s soccer team enjoy each other’s company, but they immersed themselves in the Fredericksburg community. From playing on the field to off-field team dinners, or even helping out at the local homeless shelter once a week before COVID-19, Hatcher said he really valued the team’s commitment to the community.
Joshua Everard, a fellow senior on the team, shared his experience being Hatcher’s teammate and friend.
“Hatcher is an overall great guy and has added a lot to this program, on the field and off the field. I am glad to have had the chance to play alongside him,” said Everard.
When Hatcher is not playing soccer, he also works as a social media coordinator for a local business. As a student and working athlete, he still maintains his academic performance, a fact which is reflected by his acceptance into Beta Gamma Sigma in 2019. He has also been named CAC all-academic yearly, recognizing good academic standing for student athletes.
For Hatcher, life has always been about balance.“Soccer has always been a big part of my life, but it is crucial to find steadiness through all aspects of life, especially family and God,” said Hatcher.