Kerri Pottharst, author of The Business of Being an Athlete, answers Ten Terrifying Questions

by |May 11, 2011

The Booktopia Book Guru asks

Kerri Pottharst

author of The Business of Being an Athlete:
How to Build a Winning Career in Sport

Ten Terrifying Questions


1.  To begin with why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself – where were you born? Raised? Schooled?

I was born in Adelaide, South Australia to German parents. My parents came out to Australia in the late 50’s.

I went to the local primary and high schools in the Adelaide foot hills. Eden Hills Primary and Blackwood High School.

2. What did you want to be when you were twelve, eighteen and thirty? And why?

I knew that I loved sport by the age of about 10, however I didn’t start thinking about being a professional sports person until my mid 20’s as there wasn’t really any sort of pathway.

(Eventually, I blazed my own trail and became Australia’s first full time beach volleyball player in 1994. I was 29 yrs old.)

At 18 yrs old I made my first National Indoor volleyball team and I remember wanting to be the best in my team, then the best in the State and then the best in Australia. To be the best in the world wasn’t even a thought back then.

However, by the time I reached 30 years old, I knew I had it in me and I most definitely wanted to be an Olympic Gold Medallist.

3.  What strongly held belief did you have at eighteen that you do not have now?

That I had to be liked and I cared very much about what people thought of me. This probably pushed me to trying to be the best in my sport as I thought it would bring me the recognition that I craved.

4. What were three big events – in the family circle or on the world stage or in your reading life, for example – you can now say, had a great effect on you and influenced you in your career path?

My brother asked me to fill in at a social game of Indoor Volleyball when I was only 15 years old. I ended up loving the sport and joined his club team. It wasn’t long before I made the State Team and within 2 years I played in my first National Indoor Volleyball Team.

One jump and one landing completely wrecked my right knee. I was playing Indoor Volleyball (after 10 years in the National Team) at the National Titles in Melbourne. I was 27yrs old.

12mths later, when I realised I could no longer play the Indoor version of my sport, I tried Beach Volleyball. It was so much more forgiving on my joints. I went on to compete in 3 Olympic Games over the next 10 years.

Being unceremoniously dumped by my boyfriend of many years.

After much soul searching, I opened my heart again and met my husband, Max. We now have the most beautiful son, Tyson, and I’ve chosen not to travel as much overseas coaching on the World Tour to be home with my wonderful family.

5. Considering the innumerable electronic media avenues open to you – blogs, online newspapers, TV, radio, etc – why have you chosen to write a book? aren’t they obsolete?

I believe that there will always be a place for a physical book.

It’s not as practical or as much fun to curl up in bed with your computer or to lie by the pool in the bright sun with a laptop!

Nothing beats holding a great book and being able to pop it in your handbag, pull it out where ever you are and read a few pages.

It doesn’t matter if it gets a bit of tomato sauce on it as you’re reading it over lunch. It will also dry without damaging it if you spill your glass of red on it while reading after dinner.

You don’t have to power it up, you don’t have to insure it for loss or damage and you can easily pass it on to share with others.

6. Please tell us about your latest book…

It dawned on me a few years ago how lucky I was to still be deriving an income from doing things I love and also doing things that are related to the success that I’ve had in my sport. I realised that so much of it has to do with having had a very ‘business’ type approach to my sporting career and creatively finding ways to earn income to fund my journey. So, I decided to write The Business of Being an Athlete so I could share the knowledge, not only with athletes, but with anyone who wants to achieve success in their lives.

The Business of Being an Athlete is a step-by-step guide that will teach you how to: Set goals and achieve them, develop an unshakeable self belief, surround yourself with an A-team, attract sponsorship and develop marketing tools, create an online presence with social media, become a successful motivational speaker and much, much more.

It’s a culmination of everything I have learnt over the years and I have used my own experiences and lessons as a tool for others to learn, grow and achieve their best.

There’s something for everyone, it’s the perfect read for budding athletes hoping to nurture their sporting talents and build a lucrative career on and off the field as well as anyone hoping to overcome challenges or attain a positive attitude, this book has it covered.

This powerful ‘toolbox’ full of ideas and strategies that will guide you to being the best you can be and improve the way you work, live and play.

7. If your work could change one thing in this world – what would it be?

I’m hoping that by learning from my experiences, others can be inspired to “win” in their own careers.

And, I’m also hoping that athletes, in particular, will understand the value of having business skills that will help them achieve their dreams.

8. Whom do you most admire and why?

I admire many people. Especially people who have achieved things out of adversity or against the odds. This takes great courage and belief and sometimes these are two of the most difficult traits to develop.

9. Many people set themselves very ambitious goals. What are yours?

My most ambitious goal ever, was to win an Olympic Gold Medal. Because I was able to achieve that with Natalie, I now believe that most any goal I set is achievable, as long as I want it enough.

Today, my goals are more aligned with family and lifestyle.

I want to be the best Mum and the best Wife I can be. I want honest, loving and fun relationships with friends and family. I always want to live by the ocean and be free to travel the world.

And, I would like my book to become a global best seller and thus help athletes and others achieve their wildest dreams and build a great life around their achievements.

10.  What advice do you give aspiring writers?

Collect, journal, record, take photos, file – do everything to gather as much information on their topic as they can as soon as they start to “think” that they might want to write a book.

And, set yourself a date that you want it published by and put it out there to the world! If you don’t have that date, it could take you years or it may never happen.

Kerri, thank you for playing.

Do you play sport? What lessons learnt in your play do you bring to your worklife?

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About the Contributor

While still in his twenties, John Purcell opened a second-hand bookshop in Mosman, Sydney, in which he sat for ten years reading, ranting and writing. Since then he has written, under a pseudonym, a series of very successful novels, interviewed hundreds of writers about their work, appeared at writers’ festivals, on TV (most bizarrely in comedian Luke McGregor’s documentary Luke Warm Sex) and has been featured in prominent newspapers and magazines. ​Now, as the Director of Books at, Australia’s largest online bookseller, he supports Australian writing in all its forms. He lives in Sydney with his wife, two children, three dogs, five cats, unnumbered gold fish and his overlarge book collection. His novel, The Girl on the Page, will be published by HarperCollins Australia in October, 2018.

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