FRONTENAC — With Thanksgiving arriving this week, most people are counting their blessings. For Austin Hatch, one of the most important of these to remember is the ability to persevere in the face of adversity.
Hatch, who gave a motivational speech Monday at Frontenac High School, is the survivor of two plane crashes, in which he suffered the loss of all of his immediate family. Despite being seriously injured in the second of these terrible accidents, Hatch went on to fulfill his dream and commitment to play basketball for the University of Michigan.
Hatch suffered a brain injury, was in a coma for weeks, and was told he would never walk again after the second plane crash he survived, but still managed to overcome that obstacle.
“I just kind of made the decision that I wanted to make the best recovery from a level 7 traumatic brain injury that was ever made by anyone,” Hatch said, adding that he didn’t see others with traumatic brain injuries as competition and wanted to see them recover as well. “I just wanted to make the best possible recovery that I could,” he said.
One student asked Hatch if he could remember his first thoughts when he woke up from his coma.
Hatch said unlike suddenly waking up from being asleep, coming out of his coma was a process that took some time, and he couldn’t remember exactly what his very first thoughts were as he began to regain consciousness. While he remembers being devastated to learn that his family members had not survived the crash, however, he also saw his recovery as a new challenge to overcome.
“It’s not if you overcome, it’s when,” Hatch said.
While Hatch’s story of surviving two plane crashes may be unique, and a situation most of his Frontenac High School audience will never have to experience, he also discussed the kinds of challenges that some of those in attendance will likely face, particularly if they go on to play sports in college.
As a freshman at University of Michigan, Hatch said, his team lost a game they should have won against the lower ranked New Jersey Institute of Technology. While the coach was disappointed, Hatch said, he told the team they should watch the film of the game and learn from it to get better.
“And so hearing that, I think that we can all watch the film of our games, metaphorically speaking, and get better from it,” Hatch said.