Gayle Hatch was born May 7, 1939, in Muskogee, Oklahoma. His father was a Delaware Indian, and his mother was a red-headed, Irish school teacher. When he was 8 years old, his family moved to Baton Rouge, Louisiana. He grew up taking care of horses and cattle under his father's example of hard work and determination.
Gayle had a natural athleticism, and this, along with his strong work ethic, drive, and determination, helped him to excel in nearly every sport. He attended a Catholic high school where he was MVP in basketball, track, and football. He earned the best double-double record in the history of Louisiana high school basketball.
Gayle continued setting athletic records at Northwestern State University in Natchitoches, Louisiana. His .875 field goal average against Kentucky Wesleyan in 1961 remains a Louisiana State College record and ranks as one of college basketball's all-time bests.
While at Northwestern State, Gayle met the love of his life and future wife, Peggy. They married and had two daughters. After graduating from college in 1962, Hatch played professional basketball with the Chicago Majors of the American Basketball League for a few years and then began a career in real estate. At that time, he also turned to his true passion-coaching. His former mentor and strength training coach, the legendary Alvin Roy, retired in the late 1970's. Hatch took over as the strength coach at Roy's training center in Baton Rouge. Since that time, Coach Hatch has become a legend himself, coaching literally thousands of athletes of all levels and, in the process, revolutionizing the sport of weightlifting, pioneering Olympic-style strength training in the United States, and fighting to enact laws prohibiting drug use in competitive weightlifting. In 1990, the USAW Board of Directors approved a proposal by Coach Hatch to start out-of-competition, random drug testing for national and junior national squad members.
Coach Hatch's career in strength and conditioning spans over 35 years. During this time, he was selected to be the Senior U.S. International Coach, head coach of the 2009 World Team, and head coach of the 2004 USA Olympic Weightlifting team. Gayle's weightlifting club, the Gayle Hatch Weightlifting Team, has won 49 USA Weightlifting National Championships. His athletes have made three US Olympic Teams and 12 World Teams. He has had over 50 athletes selected to compete on other US international teams. These athletes include Bret Brian, Tommy Calandro, Blair Lobrano, Matt Bruce, Walt Imahara, and Chuck Meole. He takes great pride in challenging his athletes to be the best they can be and to build not only strong bodies, but also strong minds and strong characters. He has also trained and mentored numerous individuals who have become extremely successful strength and conditioning coaches in their own right.
Coach Hatch developed his own unique approach to strength training, known as "The Hatch System," which emphasizes the importance of explosive strength training for all athletes. In recent years, his philosophy and training system has been influential with the strength and conditioning coaches at LSU, the University of Alabama, the University of Miami, and the University of Tennessee. The football teams at these institutions have won a combined total of 7 BCS National Championships. The Hatch system was also used at Appalachian State which won two Division II Football National Championships and by the LSU and Miami Baseball teams which also won national championships , as well as by the LSU men's and women's final four basketball teams.
Coach Hatch's contributions have been recognized by coaches and athletes around the world, and he has been included in many Hall of Fames:
Coach Hatch has received numerous other honors:
The honors and accolades are appreciated, but Coach Hatch's greatest legacy is manifest and perpetuated through the lives and accomplishments of those he has coached and mentored and through their impact on others.