By Alex Stewart
When pulling up to the gym at Mesa High School, loud music can be heard blaring through the speakers and echoing throughout an empty campus.
Inside the gym, the Jackrabbits are practicing, getting acclimated to dealing with noise in preparation for their Division I playoff game on Saturday. They believe becoming accustomed to it will result in a much more confident team come game time.
It is an odd contrast for the Jackrabbits, who for the most part this season have gotten their confidence from a much more quiet source: Drew Hatch, though he would never be one to admit it.
“Everyone can step up on any night,” said Hatch, shrugging off any notion that he is considered a major leader on the team. “We have a bunch of leaders on our team, not just one in particular. It’s nice to have everyone be able to lead, being able to score and be able to get that stop.”
Whether the 6-foot-4 senior shooting guard will acknowledge it or not, the rest of the team, including his fellow seniors, look up to him.
“He is a leader both on and off the court,” senior guard David Cummard said. “He might not be one of the louder guys on the court, but off the court he is always doing what is right.”
Hatch’s teammates and coaches were quick to point out that his off-the-court achievements are just as impressive as his statistics.
“He is great in school. I don’t think he has ever gotten a B,” senior guard Darius Goudeau mused. “(He) never gets in trouble.”
Hatch’s head coach knows how instrumental he is on and off the floor.
“Drew is a great influence,” Shane Burcar said. “He helps guys. I mean, if they need help in a class, he is right there to help tutor them.”
In addition to being a standout player for the Jackrabbits, helping other teammates with school, and being looked upon as a leader, Hatch is taking five AP classes.
“Drew maintains a level of excellence, both on and off the court,” Burcar said. “I honestly think he gets it from his parents. They see what he can do, and I believe they push him to be great, though I know even they want to see him take a break.
“I know there have been times when Drew is up late doing his homework, and his father has told him, ‘It’s OK you can do it later. Get some rest.’ It’s just who he is, he wants to succeed.”
Even with all his achievements, Hatch refuses to accept that he does it on his own.
Instead, he credits those that are around him for motivation.
“I have a lot of help,” he said. “I have a lot of friends in my AP classes. My teammates here on the court support me. Everyone acts as good examples to me as teammates, working hard every day. It just makes it easier and put less pressure on me, seeing all these great guys around me.”
For as accomplished as Hatch is, there is still one title that has eluded him during his time at Mesa High: state champion. Hatch and his teammates have positioned themselves to make a run at the title as they are ranked second in the state and get a first-round bye. They will meet the winner of Thursday’s game between Pinnacle and Desert Mountain.
Hatch believes that being state champions would provide him and his teammates closure after their four-year journey playing basketball for Mesa.
“I think winning would just complete the process,” he said. “Four years of working hard everyday on the court, in the weight room, everything we do as a team, this would just complete it.”
Win or lose, Hatch wants this team to be remembered for more than just its record or accolades.
“We want to be known as a great team,” he said. “A bunch of guys that are good guys, that are really close and that everyone works hard and that is what it’s all about.”
As the team prepares to make a run at a state title, by practicing through booming music, and blaring buzzers, there sits Drew Hatch, as calm, cool and quiet as ever, ready to let his actions speak the loudest, one final time.