Hatch conflicted as LSU men's basketball takes on NW State
Sit down with Gayle Hatch for long and it
doesn’t take long before he starts reminiscing about his basketball career at
That in itself is amazing, considering what
Hatch has accomplished as a strength training and
weightlifting coach since he left
But Hatch’s connection to the Demons runs deep, and that makes this week a little strange for the man now in charge of strength and conditioning for the LSU men’s basketball team.
The Tigers (5-3) entertain
“I love Northwestern and I had a great career
there,” Hatch said. “I have a lot of good friends and former teammates there
who I still keep in touch with. Plus, over the years I’ve trained a lot of
Northwestern athletes from the
“But I’m at LSU now, coaching these guys who I have bonded with. This week is all about business for me and I’m sure my friends at Northwestern feel the same way.”
One of Hatch’s closest friends certainly does.
Demons coach Mike McConathy and Hatch talk on a regular basis — often enough that McConathy calls his friend an inspiration and role model.
“He’s a great guy first of all, and the fact that he played basketball here makes him that much more special to me and our program,” McConathy said. “The thing about Gayle is that he has really worked hard at his craft and become known around the world for what he does. That’s an amazing accomplishment for anybody and since he wore a Demons uniform, we think he’s pretty special. He’s very prominent in Northwestern basketball history, so there’s quite a connection there.”
That connection can also be found in the Demons record book.
Hatch produced one of the more memorable games
in Northwestern history on
Known as a powerful inside player combined with a deadly outside shot, Hatch also set a school record by grabbing 21 rebounds in a game and shot 57.7 percent from the floor as a senior in 1961-62.
Since basketball ended for Hatch, he has made his name thousands of times over on the international and Olympic levels as a weightlifting coach. He never forgot where he came from, though, and the connection was refortified when McConathy landed the Northwestern job in 1999.
consider Mike McConathy a very good friend of mine,”
Hatch said. “He’s a great coach. In fact, when they beat
That competition aside, Hatch will always have a place with the Demons. He and former LSU coach Dale Brown made sure of that in 2004 when they combined to create the Gayle Hatch Scholarship, which goes to a Demons basketball player every season.
“He’s been in our gym pulling for the Demons a lot over the years, and we know any time we’re not playing LSU he’s going to be pulling for us,” McConathy said. “That means a lot to me.”