Austin Hatch brings inspiration talk to Mount Clemens

By: Alex Szwarc | Mount Clemens - Clinton - Harrison Journal | Published May 26, 2021

 Austin Hatch speaks at the Emerald Theatre May 11. Hatch survived two plane crashes in eight years and played basketball at the University of Michigan.

Austin Hatch speaks at the Emerald Theatre May 11. Hatch survived two plane crashes in eight years and played basketball at the University of Michigan.

Photo by Alex Szwarc


MOUNT CLEMENS — With a smile on his face, Austin Hatch admits he is the all-time lowest-scoring full-scholarship athlete in the history of University of Michigan basketball.  

Hatch was among the more than 30 speakers who participated in-person, virtually and on-demand for the Purpose Summit, held May 11-13 in Mount Clemens.

The summit’s website indicates it is the largest gathering of purpose-driven thought leaders, business leaders and community leaders in a combined global three-day virtual and in-person experience.

Hatch spoke at the Emerald Theatre May 11. He is an inspirational speaker at Overcome It, LLC. He played on the 2014-15 Michigan basketball team, finishing his college career with one point.

Hatch, now 26, survived two plane crashes in eight years. Combined, the crashes killed his mother, brother, sister, father and stepmother.

“I have a unique story and have faced a couple of big ones, with the two tragic plane crashes and the loss of my family,” he said.

The summit was hosted by PurposePoint, a professional development organization that formed in 2018. Its goal is to help individuals and organizations across the world identify, communicate and fulfill their purpose.

Hatch said after the first plane crash, he was pretty badly injured.

“My dad showed me how to respond to adversity when you face an incomprehensible loss like that,” he said. “I can’t imagine what it’s like to lose a wife and two beautiful children, but he found a way to keep living his life.”

Hatch’s father remarried and he said he got some normalcy back to his life, working hard on his basketball skills.  

The second plane crash came nine days after Hatch committed to play basketball at Michigan.

“I was in the highest of highs and then the unthinkable happened,” he said.

After the crash, in which he said he was almost killed, Hatch spent over two months in a coma, suffering a traumatic brain injury.

Statistically speaking, Hatch said he shouldn’t be alive.

“An MIT statistician calculated the odds of surviving a plane crash, with at least one fatality, is one in 3.4 million,” Hatch said. “I survived two of them, which is one in over 11 quadrillion.”

After coming out of a coma, Hatch had to relearn how to walk and talk.

“I had no control over the circumstances, but I have 100% control of how I choose to respond,” he said.     

While at Michigan, John Beliein was Hatch’s coach.

“He came to see me in the hospital, and I was in a wheelchair,” Hatch said. “He told me whenever I was able to get to Michigan, ‘I can’t wait to have you on my team and coach you.’”

Hatch described the word “grit” as an acronym for growth, resilience, integrity and team-first mentality.

“It’s the ability to work hard consistently toward a long-term vision,” he said. “Grit is driven by a greater purpose, and we need to have something bigger for ourselves that we’re working for.”   

In regard to integrity, Hatch believes that not only is it about doing the right thing when no one is looking, it’s also about following through on commitments, especially when circumstances change.

“I believe following through on commitments when there is a changing circumstance is doing a common thing in an uncommon way,” he said.

PurposePoint Founder Davin Salvagno said over 500 people registered for the summit, both in-person and virtually. He thanked Hatch for his continuing perseverance and being an example of grit.

“Thank you for living your purpose out for all to see and challenging all of us to find purpose, even in the darkest of moments,” Salvagno said.

In speaking with C & G Newspapers after his talk, Hatch said the summit is valuable because it emphasizes what is important.

“There are things we can’t control,” he said. “The COVID circumstances are what they are, and everyone has been impacted. Having that greater purpose is important and remembering what that is to drive us and finding ways to thrive.”

This year’s lineup of speakers included authors, executives, founders and leaders from a variety of industries like Doug Slocum, the former 127th Wing commander at Selfridge Air National Guard Base.