Sept. 2, 2017
by Allegra Zamore
For Virginia senior Daniel Hamm, being in the spotlight has always come easy. From the track, to the football field, to the center of his high school theater’s stage, the senior has always had a knack for performing; something he hopes to take with him after leaving UVA in the spring.
Performing at a high level in many areas would be most people’s dream, but Hamm eventually had to make a decision on what path he wanted to pursue heading into college.
“My decision to come to UVA only had a little bit to do with football,” Hamm said. “I almost didn’t play my senior year because football wasn’t going as well for me or bringing me as much happiness as running track was.”
Hamm was recruited to Virginia to compete in track and field. During his recruitment, assistant track coach Mario Wilson helped him secure a spot on the football team as a preferred walk on.
“I competed in one meet my first year as a triple jumper and was redshirted for the season,” Hamm said. “My second year I competed in the entire indoor season for triple jump, and I hope to compete again this spring.”
Just three games into the 2013 football season, Hamm made his first appearance on the football field as a Cavalier. The success followed quickly when he set the UVA record for most rushing yards in a collegiate debut against VMI.
The fifth-year senior graduated last May with a bachelor’s degree in media studies and is currently working on a master’s degree in the Curry School of Education’s athletic administration program. Hamm has filled his time at UVA with diverse opportunities both on and off the field.
He had the opportunity to appear in African American Studies Professor Claudrena Harold’s short film, The Fastest Man in the State that had him thinking about his theater days, performing on the Fort Chiswell High School stage.
“I have two plays that stick out in my mind from high school,” Hamm said. “In one of them I played the Grinch and the other Prince Charming. Both were very outgoing characters, that were pretty obnoxious, but that’s just who I was. I kind of stole the show in both plays.”
His experiences in the spotlight carried over from his roles on the track and football teams, helping him standout and improve upon his performance in a setting other than sports.
“When I played Prince Charming, every time I spoke I put the “Blue Steel” face on from Zoolander,” Hamm said. “I got to lip-sync Purple Rain by Prince, and I even had a little fan club. They all wore Prince Charming shirts and screamed when I was on stage.”
With undergrade graduation behind him, Hamm has been thinking about taking his knack for performing and pursuing a career in acting or television when his football days are over.
“I can see myself speaking on TV as a sports analyst or with a cameo in a movie,” Hamm said. “I can be a pretty dramatic guy if I wanted to be. I would love to be in one of those Old Spice commercials. I could use my Prince Charming skills and sell anything.”
Over the last five years, Hamm has used this charisma to stand out as a leader among his teammates. He understands the importance of being a strong role model to younger guys on the team and the influence that he has.
“It’s nice knowing that people are looking up to me,” Hamm said. “I have been blessed with this position of leadership and influence, and its great knowing that I can help them stay on the right path and out of trouble. I also hold myself to a higher standard because I trust that people are going to look to me to lead by example.”
Hamm’s natural ability to perform in the spotlight has awarded him important positions on and off the field, but he remains true to himself, his family and credits his faith for getting him where he is today.
“My mom always used to tell me that I was a blessed child of God and that’s what has been driving me growing up,” Hamm said. “ I have it tattooed across my chest as a constant reminder of who I am and what I am here for. I am here to glorify His name and that’s what I should be working for.”
For Hamm, it’s always been about using his versatility to make the most of his opportunities in order to succeed at the highest possible level. His ability to perform on and off the field helps him lead by example to create a positive environment for his teammates and his peers.
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A 1985 graduate of UVA, White worked at the Richmond Times-Dispatch until July 2009. He was honored six times as the state's Sportswriter of the Year.
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