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When an athlete reaches their shelf life due to injury or age, a career in real estate is often a sustainable fit, and because so many of their peers are already working in the industry, it’s already a supportive environment.

Victoria-based rugby sevens player Lucas Hammond just returned from Tokyo where he played in his first Olympics. The team made it to the quarter-final, but Canada lost to New Zealand 21-10, which was a blow, Mr. Hammond says.

Although he’s now unsure of his future in rugby, he’s officially joined the ranks of athletes who have made real estate a second career. The 27-year-old had obtained his real-estate licence late last year, after the pandemic delayed the 2020 Olympics and left him wondering if he’d ever get to Tokyo. The team had qualified for the Olympics in early March, 2020, and a week later, everything went into lockdown, so he decided the time was right.

“It was a crazy time, but I had started the real-estate course before that because I was planning on doing it after the Olympics, anyway,” Mr. Hammond says, the day after returning from Tokyo.

“I had nothing else to do, so I powered through the course, got through it last summer, wrote the exam in September and had my licence by November.”

When training for the Olympics, Mr. Hammond was running from his 6 to 11 a.m. rugby session in Langford, where the team is based, to property showings between there and Victoria, where he lives. He kept a change of clothes in his car.

Juggling rugby with the job could have been more challenging if his realtor teammate wasn’t also an athlete. He had joined former football player Alex Carroll’s Carroll Group, which works with Engel & Völkers Vancouver Island.

Athletes and realtors Lucas Hammond (left) and Alex Carroll in the office of Mr. Carroll’s Carroll Group brokerage in Victoria.Courtesy Alex Carroll

Throughout his rugby career, Mr. Hammond has had to look for jobs that fit with his schedule, including work in construction and restaurant jobs. Secondary jobs are a necessity for most players, a fact that kept him humble, he says.

Now that he’s a realtor, he’s planning to donate a portion of each sale to underprivileged young rugby players, because he saw too many youth give up early because of the costs of the sport.

“That was a big draw for me, to join a team, to work in a team environment again, instead of going it alone,” Mr. Hammond says.

Other reasons athletes often make the transition to real estate is they have a naturally entrepreneurial drive, and they excel at building relationships with all kinds of people, says Mr. Carroll, a former Canadian Football League player.

Alex Carroll in action with the Rough Riders.Courtesy Alex Carroll

Since he was a kid, he only ever wanted to play football, and a scholarship took him to Queen’s University, where he got a bachelor’s in political science. He considered a career in law, but went on to play with the Saskatchewan Roughriders and then the Montreal Alouettes, where he quickly blew out his knee in training.

Mr. Carroll, who is 29, got started in real estate after that career-ending injury, four years ago. Unlike Mr. Hammond, Mr. Carroll’s sports career ended abruptly, which he thinks might be an easier transition.

“They flew me home, I came back to Victoria and I enrolled in the real estate course right way. This career had always been in the back of my mind, just because I had a bit of an entrepreneurial spirit. I felt like that was part of my DNA.”

For an athlete, it’s not just a matter of changing jobs. There’s the question of identity, he adds.

“Someone once told me that every athlete dies twice … I lived and breathed football from the time I was 7 until I was something like 25 … People knew me as a football player. Not to say I didn’t have other characteristics. I would talk about other things. But that was my identity. That was the thing I woke up and got excited about every day.

“So the second that that ends, you do have to go through a bit of a period where you reinvent and begin to tell a new story about who you are. It was easy for me to make that transition because it was cut and dry, I could walk away. I knew I was never going to play again. I was injured. It didn’t make sense for me to continue to pursue it.

“I will be curious to see how Lucas approaches that same thing because he’s been doing both for the better part of a year now, and continuing to pursue rugby, while beginning his new career in real estate. It’s a softer transition for him.”

Mr. Carroll was supportive of Mr. Hammond’s schedule and his determination to get to the Olympics. They had met a few times, and he decided to invite him to join his company because of what he had achieved as an athlete. He had also been looking to expand. Business has been good. He recently sold a house at 3680 Crestview Rd., in Oak Bay, B.C., for $177,000 over the listed price, for $1.476-million.

Carroll Group brokerage recently sold this house at 3680 Crestview Rd., in Oak Bay, B.C., for $177,000 over the listed price.Jacob McNeil/Platinum HD Studios

“There are certain things about who he is as a person and how he’s carried himself to reach this level, and in some ways it’s the biggest stamp of approval that I can see, and I know what it takes,” Mr. Carroll says. “Top eight in the world is not so shabby.”

There is a long history of athletes throughout North America who have made the move into real estate, from all sports. Within Engel & Völkers alone, former athletes include Major League baseball players Jim Bruske and Adam Kennedy, CFL player Chris Burns and American football player Beau Blankenship.

Closer to home, Ryan Cochrane, two-time Olympic medalist for the swim team, has been working as a Victoria realtor for the past four years. And Mr. Hammond’s teammates Harry Jones and Connor Braid built a new commercial brokerage in Victoria for the past year, also while training for the Olympics.

As part of a sports-loving family, Mr. Hammond started playing rugby at age 7, in South Africa, where his parents worked as missionaries. He’d play barefoot, and he loved it. They returned to Toronto when he was 12 years old, and he continued to play for a local club.

He says the toughest part of starting out in real estate is getting the first listings, which means building a network and getting his name out there, spending money on ad campaigns, and travelling further afield, to Sooke, B.C., once a week.

After training sessions, he went door to door and dropped hundreds of letters in mailboxes, often hobbling because he was sore after a morning on the turf.

He can’t complain, though. He’s witnessing a market that is going crazy for luxury real estate, and that’s his new goal.

“Right now I’m working my ass off every day, but residential higher end is what I’m aiming for,” he says. “The amount of buyers buying unseen is crazy, out of this world right now. Buying these multimillion-dollar homes on a FaceTime call.”

His ability to quickly recover from losses will likely help him through the challenges of a real-estate career, he says.

“In sevens, especially, with so many games happening so fast, you can’t dwell on one. You need to regroup and move on to the next one, or you fail at the next one as well. I can definitely see that parallel with real estate. You get rejected every day, and you just need to regroup and move on and keep focused on the end goal.”

Mr. Carroll said the turnover rate for new realtors is high. Not everyone can deal with the high-pressure hustle required.

“I also would say more than anything else, it always comes down to, what has your history of discipline been? Because there are a lot of aspects of this job that aren’t super glamorous … such as having tough conversations with people and picking up the phone and making calls even when you’re not feeling so good. There are a lot of highs and lows.”

But he agrees with Mr. Hammond that the pressure to overcome failure and immediately get back out there works for the athlete mindset.

“When we came into the CFL, they told us that the average CFL career was one year. It’s injuries, it’s turnover.”

Football careers are often fleeting, he says.

“It’s a cut-throat business, and it’s a performance-based business, and every week you’re kind of on the chopping block. So if you are on the team at the start of the year, generally you see a new group of guys in the locker room every week. That’s the nature of it. So it can be difficult, and it’s a high pressure environment, and so a great experience for me.”

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