Latter-day Saint soccer star Ashley Hatch was honored Wednesday with an ESPY award as the “Best NWSL Player” by the global sports media network ESPN.
Hatch, who has been a frequent subject of Church News stories, received the 2022 accolade along with several other celebrated athletes — including basketball’s Stephen Curry, football’s Aaron Rodgers, baseball’s Shohei Ohtani and Olympian Katie Ledecky.
A former Brigham Young University stand-out and a member of Team USA, Hatch recently snagged headlines of a different sort when she played “tour guide” during the open house of the Washington D.C. Temple.
On April 26, Hatch accompanied several of her teammates and friends from the Washington Spirit on a tour of the temple hosted by Elder W. Mark Bassett, a General Authority Seventy, and his wife, Sister Angela Bassett.
“It was just a really neat experience,” Hatch told the Church News following the tour. “My teammates didn’t really know what to expect, but they understood [touring the temple] would be a unique opportunity. … I just loved being able to share a huge part of my life with them.”
Hatch added that her teammates enjoyed walking through the temple’s many rooms and learning more about the purposes of temples.
“They all had a lot of questions about the temple and the temple dedication,” said Hatch. “They also asked about other temples around the world. When we went into one of the sealing rooms, I was able to tell them about my own temple marriage [to husband Jeff Van Buren] in the Gilbert Arizona Temple.”
The star striker admitted it was a bit unnerving talking about her religious convictions with women she competes with on the soccer pitch in one of the world’s most competitive women’s soccer leagues.
“I didn’t realize how vulnerable I would feel bringing my teammates to the temple … but I really enjoyed it,” she said. “They were all so great to come and support me.”
A Church communications specialist in her Fairfax, Virginia, ward and a former ward Young Women adviser, Hatch also served on the temple open house’s sports and culture committee. She utilized her Instagram, Twitter and Facebook social media pages to encourage others to visit the D.C.-area temple during the public open house.
“It was such a wonderful experience to be able to share such a huge part of my life with others,” she wrote on her Instagram page. “I’d love to encourage all who live in the [Washington metropolitan] area to visit the temple open house if you have the opportunity.
“Being a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints brings me so much joy and is a huge blessing in my life.”
Wednesday’s ESPY Award — an acronym for Excellence in Sports Performance Yearly — is just the latest soccer highlight for the decorated Gilbert, Arizona, native.
Besides playing a key role in the Spirit’s successful 2021 NWSL title run, Hatch was awarded the league’s 2021 Golden Boot after leading the league with 10 goals. She later finished fourth in the voting for league Most Valuable Player honors and was named to the 2021 Best XI First Team.
Hatch has become a regular on the U.S. women’s national team, the world’s top-ranked international squad.