SAN ANTONIO, Mich. (WOOD) — Every team faces adversity throughout the journey to the Final Four, but it’s nothing compared to what one member of the University of Michigan men’s basketball team has had to overcome.
Student manager Austin Hatch is walking miracle after surviving two plane crashes, the second of which killed his parents and nearly claimed his own life.
“It didn’t look good for me for a while,” Hatch said.
Before the crashes, Hatch was a highly-touted recruit. But the injuries he suffered in the crash did too much damage to his body for him to reach his potential at the Division I level.
Despite that, Michigan head coach John Beilein honored his scholarship and kept him as aprt of the team. Although he doesn’t play, he plays a vital role for the team.
“It’s been a blessing not being able to play,” Hatch said. “I’m not glad, I wish I could play, but it’s forced me to adapt to think about the team first.”
That team-first mindset is familiar in the Wolverines’ locker room, but being a part of this one has been uplifting for Hatch.
“I’m blessed, people hear me say that all the time,” he said. “It may sound odd in the midst of all the circumstances, in the midst of all I have been through to hear a kid talk about how blessed he is.”
Hatch has been so important to the Wolverines that Beilein gave him the chance to dress for senior night so he could walk to the center of the court with his fiancé and grandparents.
Through it all, Hatch doesn’t talk about “what-if’s.”
“We’re not a product of our circumstances, we’re not a product of our environment,” Hatch said. “I believe we are produced of choices and decisions we make and how we respond to the circumstances we face.”