Returning to D.C. Was a Slam Dunk for Lawrence Hamm

Washington D.C. has always felt like home to Lawrence Hamm, sports development manager for Destination DC, even when it wasn’t. Born in the nation’s capital, Hamm and his family moved to Harrisburg, Pa., when he was four. He was a star basketball player at Harrisburg High—winning the state championship in 2002—but spent summers in Washington with his family. A college hoops career at Towson University near Baltimore paid off in a six-year stint playing pro basketball in Holland, Finland and the Czech Republic. So it makes sense he transitioned to sports tourism through the nonprofit Hamm Camp, which teaches basketball and life skills to youth in Harrisburg. Partnering with city agencies and donors kept the still-thriving camp free and taught him important networking skills he uses today. Hamm stayed with basketball working in Under Armour’s marketing department before jumping at the chance to branch out to other sports and return home with his role with Destination DC, which he took over in 2014. “I have been blessed to work in a space I have lived in for so long,” says Hamm. “I don’t see it as work but as fun challenges that drive me to improve my efforts and thinking each day.” Connect Sports’ Joe Bush spoke to Hamm about the industry, his career and Washington, D.C. as a sports destination. What is good about the industry right now? The sports world is forever evolving. It is one industry that crosses over into so many worlds, making it a priority for many of the largest companies in the world. Because of this, it will be an industry that lasts the test of time. What needs to be fixed within the industry right now? Oversaturation of events that do not work. We as a whole need to make sure we don’t just have events to have them. I hope we work together to help new organizations have events but provide the support to let their events grow and last. Best advice you've gotten? The numbers matter, but make sure the consumer is having a great experience. Make memories for all who are involved. What advice would you give to people starting in your industry? Find mentors and understand where to run before you run too fast in the wrong direction. Then be confident and carve your own niche. [caption id="attachment_8115" align="aligncenter" width="610"]WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 01:  An overall view of the field during the national anthem prior to the start of the 2015 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic between the Washington Capitals and the Chicago Blackhawks on January 1, 2015 at Nationals Park in Washington, DC.  (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images) Nationals Park, which hosted the 2015 Winter Classic, will be home of the 2018 MLB All-Star Game.[/caption] What is unique about Washington, D.C. for sports events? We are the capital of the world. People want to be in this amazing city, so it’s up to us to make sure the experiences live up to and surpass the expectations. How does D.C.'s status as home of the federal government affect your mission? The government gives us a very different schedule. We are really busy during the week and not as much on the weekend. Our city has inaugurations that take up the entire city. Most other cities don’t need to plan events around when a new president comes into office. What is a recent project you're proud of? I have to say finalizing the Major League Baseball All-Star game for 2018. This is an event I would watch as a kid and to say our team was a part of bringing it to D.C. is awesome. Photo Credit: Destination DC