Senior Lady Vol soccer player Chelsea Hatcher looking for successful season
The Hatchers of Cincinnati are a family for all sports seasons.
On the rare occasions parents and kids are all seated at the dinner table, the conversation could go a number of directions.
Chelsea, a forward for Tennessee's soccer team, might mention she is a first-team All-SEC honoree. Her senior season begins Friday in an exhibition match at Samford.
Older brother Derek might steer the talk to football. He played on Richmond's 2008 Division I-AA national championship team.
Dad, Billy, would be preoccupied with the National League standings. He's the first-base coach for the Cincinnati Reds.
Mom, Karen, might drop a few memories from her days running track and cross country at Ohio University.
While Billy's season with the Reds is winding to conclusion, Chelsea's work is just beginning.
She's the leading scorer for a Lady Vols team that wants to return to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2008.
"I want to win,'' she said Wednesday. "For the past (two) years we've had the talent and we haven't produced. We've produced, but maybe not at the right times.''
Hatcher vividly recalls the first time she was asked to produce under pressure — the 2008 SEC tournament semifinals when the Lady Vols and LSU went to penalty kicks to break a 1-1 deadlock.
Coach Angela Kelly asked for a show of hands as to which five players wanted to take the PKs.
"I stared at the ground,'' Hatcher said with a laugh. "I didn't want to tell her I was scared but I was.''
Kelly wasn't buying. She told her freshman she was not only going to take a shot, but was going to make it and Tennessee was going to win.
"I thought let's just get the elephant out of the room,'' Kelly said Wednesday. " 'You're going to be a tremendous player here and you can't shy away from responsibility.' ''
Kelly was prophetic. Hatcher took the final kick and made it to clinch the victory that sent UT on to the title game, which it also won.
Her offensive load has increased annually. As a junior, she scored eight goals, tying for fourth in the league, while launching an SEC-high 105 shots.
"Over the course of her career,'' Kelly said, "she's decided in certain games that she's just going to take it over.
"And through her athleticism, and ability to strike the ball and her presence, she's been able to do that.''
Her dad could strike a different kind of ball. Billy rapped out 1,146 hits for seven different teams.
His greatest claim to fame was probably the 1990 World Series, when he hit .750 for the Reds in a four-game sweep of Oakland to break Babe Ruth's World Series record for batting average.
Chelsea grew up in Cincinnati, Florida, then back to Cincinnati. She was 7 when Billy retired.
"I was happy when he retired because he was going to be home a lot more,'' Chelsea said. "Then he started coaching so he really wasn't home a lot more.''
Does he know his soccer?
"He likes to think he does,'' Chelsea said. "He knows sports. He's all about competing.''
It runs in the family.