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Nikki Kerr on Raising a Pro Athlete

Over the past decade, Nikki and Josh Kerr, the former WSL Championship Tour (CT) surfer, have been balancing both family and Tour life -- not an easy task when competitors travel for most of the year. Now that Josh is retired, though, it's his daughter Sierra who has taken over headlines. The 11-year-old has a penchant for pink, lands kick-flips on a skateboard, places in golf tournaments and goes for airs in surf. And if she's anything like her dad, she'll only get better with age.

Josh Kerr of Australia retired from Championship Tour competition after a ten year career at the elite level when he placed second in Heat 8 of Round Three at the 2017 Billabong Pipe Masters at Pipe, Hawaii, USA. In October, Josh Kerr retired after 10 years on the CT. Nikki and Sierra joined him for the bittersweet goodbye. WSL / Kelly Cestari

Recently, the youngest Kerr tried her hand at interviewing, too, for a PGA (Pro Golf Tour) segment -- and that was between duties as a member of the Roxy team, which does signing and events all over the world. With so much happening at such an early age, both parents have their hands full. Ahead of the Roxy Pro Gold Coast, which kicks off March 11, Nikki Kerr opened up about her daughter's undying competitive streak, and what it's like to raise a family on Tour.

What's the hardest part about raising an athlete?
I think the hardest part for me is knowing if I should put my foot down or not. I have to remind Sierra every day that she's only 11 years old. I then tell myself, as long as she's healthy, happy and safe, then go girl!

There are two Sierras in one body, I think (laughs). She's this sweet, loving and innocent girl that still has a teddy to sleep with. Then she's so self-driven and passionate about her life, sports and school. She already has it all figured out in her own mind. What she wants to do in life and how she's going to do it. There's really no telling her she can't do something or that she needs to slow down. She's so competitive within herself. When she doesn't do something to her own standards, she won't give it up until she's conquered it. We didn't push or tell her to be that way, that's just who she is.

What's the most rewarding part?
She always has a positive, humble and happy attitude toward everyone. There isn't a mean bone in her body. She also gives encouragement and shows sportsmanship towards everyone. She wants everyone to be proud of themselves in everything they do. It's so rewarding watching her cheer others on, even if she doesn't know them. Just the stoke she has on life inspires me.

What sport is Sierra most passionate about right now? And does that change often?
Surfing is always her No. 1 but golf is very close behind. Skateboarding is a love of hers, but it's taken a back seat. We let her decide what it is she wants to do. We don't ever have to push her or ask her if she wants to do something, she asks us. If it was her choice, I'm sure she would do every sport she loves every day, one after the other.

Josh Kerr of Australia retires after being defeated in round there heat 8 and is chaired up the beach at the 2017 Billabong Pipe Masters at Pipe, Oahu, Hawaii, USA.. Josh and Sierra Kerr at the Billabong Pipe Masters after annoucing retirement. WSL / Tony Heff

As Sierra gets older, do you see her competing for a living?
If Sierra has it her way she'll be a professional and champion in many sports.

Were you ever an athlete?
I'm very athletic, but I was never an "athlete." My parents raised me to try many different sports. To try my best at everything I did. To be decent or good at everything I liked. I can keep up to say the least. In some sports, I can teach them a few things -- and have (laughs).

What's the biggest sacrifice you guys have made to allow your children to pursue their passions?
There's so many things I've always wanted to conquer and I've happily put them aside so my family can achieve their dreams and goals. Josh, has finished his competitive surfing to spend time with the family even though he still has years left in him. To me, it's all compromise. One day soon I'll be able to conquer the things I would like to do and Josh will always find a way to conquer more of his. If putting our passions aside for our children to follow their own, I'm all for it!

Professional athletes have to travel a lot. How do you deal with that as a family? How do you juggle it all?
It's been very hard to juggle family and travel. We don't have a usual situation. Josh is from Australia and I'm from the USA. We have moved back and forth to accommodate both of us and where we're from. My son, Colin, is almost 18 and has other goals in life besides sports. Sierra, has so many sports and goals she wants to pursue. Josh, traveled on tour for months out of the year and businesses he's a part of. We do try our best to have us all sit down and work together to make it work for each of us, the best we can. Family is number one and always will be, but it hasn't always been easy.

Now that Josh is retired, what's next for you guys?
That's a great question! We've been asked this numerous times. Josh, has something very exciting he's working on and we hope it always goes to plan. To us, giving back is so important and we'll continually work on that no matter what.

Happy International Women's Day (March 8, 2018) from the WSL.

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