Freshman defensive specialist Emma Hatcher has broken out into the spotlight after her great start to her freshman season. She leads the team in digs and service aces so far in the 2022 season and has a lot of games left to play to only improve on that.
Outside of volleyball, she has a fascinating story. She lived overseas for a total of eight years in Germany and South Korea.
“I lived overseas around the beginning of elementary school to the end of middle school,” Hatcher said. “My dad was stationed in the military.”
Hatcher lived in Germany during elementary school, and then right before middle school started, she moved to South Korea.
“I can speak a little bit of German and understand it, but I can’t speak Korean,” Hatcher said.
While Hatcher didn’t play volleyball overseas, she always had someone to watch playing the sport, which was one of the reasons she fell in love with it.
“My mom actually played overseas in a group,” Hatcher said. “I got to participate in some of their practices, so just seeing them, I always knew I wanted to play. Once we came back, I started club volleyball, and we are here now.”
From living in Germany to South Korea to Florida, she always knew she wanted to come to the beautiful state of New Jersey to become a Red Hawk.
“Montclair [State University] is one of the colleges that had my major, and the campus is just absolutely beautiful,” Hatcher said. “I also wanted somewhere where it was cold because I have been living in the heat for the past couple of years. Ultimately when I came up here, everyone was so friendly and welcoming. I just felt like this is a place for me to be.”
Hatcher has been phenomenal during this 2022 season, and she is not slowing down. Not only does she place within the top three in assists on the team, but she is also already becoming an important player alongside graduate students Leah Higgins and Delaney St. Pierre.
“I feel that the whole team has been absolutely fantastic,” Hatcher said. “We are all putting in a lot of work. I honestly wasn’t expecting to be playing as much as I am playing now, but how everyone connects as a team is awesome to see.”
Head coach Eddie Stawinski had lots to say about Hatcher and her breakout freshman season.
“She’s a very good overall all-around player,” Stawinski said. “She comes from a very good club down in Florida and has a very high volleyball IQ. She was a player we started to move around in different positions; she settled very well in the libero position. Right now, she’s doing a really good job defensively, and she’s also good at passing. I always knew she was going to be a big contributor to our team, it just so happens she’s taking over this position, and she’s doing a really good job.”
Stawinski also has lots of praise for how quickly she has become one of the most valuable members of the volleyball team.
“The fact that she has been able to contribute to the college level very quickly is something I’m very happy about,” Stawinski said. “With experience, I thought it would take a little time. Still, she felt comfortable in that position; she’s played so hard and has done really, really well. Last night [against New Jersey City University] she just had 21 digs, which is another great mark. It just shows how hard she works and the training that she does, staying after practice for some extra reps, and those are all the things that contribute to her playing at this level early on.”
Both coming in as freshmen, middle blocker Mia Capriglione and Hatcher have been making their mark early on with the Red Hawks. Capriglione is all for what Hatcher has done so far with the program.
“I feel good, I’m really good friends with [Hatcher] and she’s doing an awesome job,” Capriglione said.
Capriglione also mentions that Hatcher is not just her teammate on the court but one of her friends outside the sport of volleyball.
“We both live in Machuga [Heights], we’ve been spending a lot of time together and we love to help each other with our chemistry homework,” Capriglione said.
Just in her first year, Hatcher has been an outstanding player for this Montclair State women’s volleyball team. While she spent eight years overseas and four more years in Florida, she still found a way to be a Red Hawk. And with only more room for improvement, it’s possible her play could be a topic of worldwide discussion.