When it came time for Jon Hatcher BA’18 to decide where to go to college, he looked at three specific factors: the success of the school’s athletic program, the quality of education and where the school was located. And although the Keller native hadn’t heard much about UT Dallas before the University recruited him to play basketball, Hatcher knew he would be a Comet when the school checked all three boxes.
“It was important to the coaches that I excel both on the court and academically,” Hatcher said. “They had high standards for me and my teammates in both areas.”
Juggling the rigorous schedule of a student athlete and the demands of a college education helped Hatcher develop self-discipline that ensured he was successful as a basketball player and a student earning a degree in emerging media and communications.
“Our freshman year, we had mandatory study hall for six to eight hours a week,” Hatcher said. “We had to prove we had good study habits and could keep our GPAs up to balance practice, workouts and school.”
As a shooting guard for the men’s basketball team, Hatcher was named the American Southwest Conference East Division Men’s Basketball Player of the Week and ended up being in the University’s top 10 of all-time scorers. And while he’s proud of his successes on the court, he is equally proud of his degree.
“Not everyone is going to play professional sports, and not everyone has the desire to,” Hatcher said. “It was better for me to go to a school that was successful athletically but could also give me tools that would help my career.”
Although Hatcher was focused on his education as a student, the real challenge came when his basketball career ended and his post-grad life began. The structure and routine he was used to as an athlete was replaced with more free time and freedom than he was accustomed to.
“When I started my first job, it was a shellshock at first,” Hatcher said. “It was a weird moment in my life. But now I’ve created a schedule that works very well and I’m on a more regimented routine.”
Now, as a digital creative producer for Sam’s Club, Hatcher manages a team of creatives who put together advertisements for brands represented in the retail chain. The skills he developed as a student athlete at UT Dallas have helped him work with a wide range of people in his role, which requires him to lead a group that primarily works in Florida while he works remotely in Dallas.
“I love it because I’m in a leadership role, and when I played basketball, I was team captain,” Hatcher said. “The communication skills I learned as an athlete have helped for sure. We all come from different places, and we all have different backgrounds and experience, so learning how to communicate effectively is really important.”
Aside from the athletic and academic success Hatcher experienced at UT Dallas, the former student athlete also met lifelong friends that he shares an unshakeable bond with.
“The guys I played basketball with are still my best friends today,” Hatcher said. “We all still hang out and we’re still super close. Through UT Dallas, I met people who are going to be in my life forever.”
You can hear more about Hatcher’s career later this month in his “A Day in the Life” presentation.