Whether it’s working on initial site plans, building an operating team for a facility or designing programs and events that will work in your market, the Eastern Sports Management team brings real-world experience to your project. Contact us today to see how we can help your organization today.
Operations and Business Development
John M. Wack leads ESM, overseeing business operations and development. John has management, sales, real estate development, start-up, and finance experience. He owned and managed a data center equipment installation company and was a top sales performer for the manufacturer. He co-founded and raised approximately $1 million for a technology real estate company. For the last 13 years, he has led ESM, writing the business plans for two ground-up projects and three expansions, attracting financing, managing construction and directing the operations teams in the four locations.
He has been active in the lacrosse community, playing in high school, for Dartmouth College, and for various clubs for the last 33 years. The English Lacrosse Union in Bath, England and the Melbourne Cricket Club in Australia have employed him as a player and coach. He has been associated with the Washington DC Lacrosse club for the past 33 years and currently plays for their Super Grand Masters team. He coached boys’ lacrosse for the Spotsylvania County Lacrosse Club and also served as their Boys Commissioner. He coaches girls’ lacrosse at James Monroe High School. He served as chairman of the Executive Committee of the Friends of the Rappahannock, a non-profit environmental advocacy, restoration and education group.
John earned a B.A. in English from Dartmouth College in 1985, and an M.A.L.S. from St. John’s College in Annapolis.
Leigh Davenport is the Vice President of Youth Programming for ESM. She has 27 years of sport and recreation experience and has managed recreation centers and sports facilities. She has been active in sport throughout her life playing multiple sports from age 5 through college. As a manager of sport and recreation facilities, she focused on programming, operations, camps, finances, employee development, programming and budget projections. Leigh drives facility safety and creating healthy habits in our youth. Leigh has over 10,000 participants in programs each year while providing all facilities with operational support far exceeding youth programs.
Leigh completed her undergraduate degree in Recreation and Leisure Management at Virginia Wesleyan College and her Master’s in Business Administration with a concentration in Public Administration from the University of Phoenix.
Andy Ballard has 18 years of expertise in facility operations, strategic planning, staff management, marketing, branding, expense controls, and business evaluation. Andy has worked in sports consulting nationally and specializes in the growth and rehabilitation of businesses. He has taken six different businesses from losing money annually, to sustainable year-over-year cash positive and has opened four new facilities plus led countless facility improvement projects. During his ten years with the YMCA, he took YMCA’s Camp Silver Beach from 800 campers to over 2,000 campers. Andy helped open the Virginia Beach Field House, at the time the largest indoor facility under ESM, and reached $3mm in the first year. At United Sports Training Center, Andy took a descending NOI from $386,000 low to a now $1.6mm high.
Andy’s life has been greatly impacted by sports. He has played basketball, baseball and football at various levels. He has coached baseball and basketball at the high school level and was a part of the 2004 VISAA Division III State Championship in baseball. This was the same year he was awarded teacher of the year at Alliance Christian Schools. Sports and recreation have been a critical piece of Andy’s growth and development as a child, and he credits sports with providing much needed structure and distraction from negative influences. Andy hopes to continue passing on these healthy lifestyle habits in the most important part of his life, his family. Andy has a career commitment to serving communities through sports. He serves on the board for the Hampton Roads Sports Commission as well as advisory councils for several facilities. Additionally, he launched ESM’s nonprofit, PlayOn, whose mission is to provide access to sport and activity to 3,000,000 individuals and drive 10,000,000 visits by 2023.
Regional Business Development
Kristi leads marketing, communications, sponsorship, and event management for ESM’s facilities. She has been immersed in the hospitality, sports, entertainment and tourism industries for more than twenty years throughout the U.S.
An outside-the-box thinker with heavy operational experience, Kristi is charged with developing and implementing innovative marketing initiatives and effective partnership programs. She specializes in creating multi-facility events which drive positive economic impact and increase brand awareness and geographic reach. She has created flex-space programming concepts for several municipalities ranging from community gardens and oceanfront ice rinks to performance venues and outdoor art exhibits.
Her event background includes marketing, promotions, talent buying, major-scale performance production, accommodations packaging, ticketing, volunteer coordination, food and beverage programming, and more. She’s produced more than 250 sporting events, fundraisers, and festivals in various markets including FL, VA, GA, NC, DC, IL, TN, and NY.
She was integral in the development of Virginia Beach’s first ever beach park and playground for adults and children with disabilities, raising more than $4.5mm in just three months while producing the nation’s largest Walk to Defeat ALS to date in 2009. Just two years later, Kristi helped grow a single-day Atlanta-based event from 5,000 attendees to being what is now one of the Southeast’s largest three-day festivals bringing in more than 65,000 patrons. Throughout her career, she’s secured upwards of $3mm in sponsorship revenue across an array of other events and facilities by developing blanketed sponsorship programs for national corporations.
Additionally, Kristi leads development and outreach efforts for ESM’s charitable arm, Play On, Inc. This non-profit organization is dedicated to ensuring that every person, young or old, is given the opportunity to stay active, and to receive all of the benefits of sports, fitness, and recreation.