While all three Aussie Sharks Goal Keepers James Clark, Joel Dennerley and Anthony Hrysanthos are eyeing off selection for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, they have also been hard at work outside the pool.
Joel Dennerley made his Aussie Sharks debut in 2008, the same year he started his university degree at the University of Southern California, where he studied B.A Human Performance with a Psychology minor.
“I was fortunate enough to attend USC to complete my degree. It is a world-class university and having the opportunity to compete at a high level in the NCAA Championships while also studying was awesome,” Dennerley said.
Since 2008, Dennerley has gone on to earn more than 150 caps for Australia representing his country at the London 2012 and Rio 2016 Olympic Games. The 32-year-old now works with the global brand Coca-Cola Amatil as a District Sales Manager.
“I started working at Coca-Cola Amatil in 2013, just after the London 2012 Olympic Games and have continued working there through the last two Olympic cycles.
“I lead a sales team of eight who are responsible for sales and customer relationships across hotels, restaurants and cafes in the Sydney metro area,” he said.
The Dual Olympian stressed the importance of life outside the pool both during and post sporting career.
“Very few people know what work or career they want to pursue once they have finished school or university, so getting work experience, whilst also playing Water Polo is great because it means you can explore options while also putting money in your pocket to live off.
“Water Polo in Australia is an amateur sport, so thinking of life outside of the pool both during your playing career and after you have finished, is vital.
Dennerley is extremely grateful to work for Coca-Cola Amatil, a proud sponsor of the Australian Olympic Team and Olympic Games, who support his Water Polo playing career.
“I have been very fortunate with how supportive Coca-Cola Amatil has been in providing me the flexibility to balance my Water Polo commitments and also progress in my career,” Dennerley said.
“Representing Australia can require many weeks and months of training and competition commitments, both in Australia and overseas. So to not only have the ability to take time off when required and have a job to come back to, but also work my way towards career progression is something I am very appreciative of.
“Also with Coca Cola as a major sponsor of the Olympics globally, they are very proud to have one of their own represented on the Olympic stage,” he said.
As Dennerley prepares for a potential third Olympic Games, he had some simple words of advice for young Water Polo athletes.
“Whether you are considering work or study, it is possible to balance your Water Polo career as well,” Dennerley said.
“One really important thing that many athletes learn from a young age is good time management skills, juggling their Water Polo commitments as well as school, uni, work, family and social obligations along the way.”
“If you are clear and communicate with your employer or school around what commitments are required for Water Polo, and there is sufficient time for them to be planned and organised, then you can achieve that flexibility to make it possible,” he said.
Anthony Hrysanthos is the most recent university graduate in the Aussie Sharks squad, having just completed his Bachelor of Applied Science (Physiotherapy) at Sydney University. Hrysanthos was also named the Sydney Uni Sport and Fitness 2019 Valedictorian.
“Having a career outside of the water was so important to me, because things don’t always work out (in sport),” Hrysanthos said.
“On the other hand, having something to keep me busy away from the pool and something else to think about was also extremely helpful. It’s good to get your mind off training and Water Polo sometimes.”
As an elite athlete, Hrysanthos understood the importance of physiotherapy and the exposure to that side of sport is something that helped him to learn.
“As an athlete being treated by physios my entire career, I know how important the role is.
“Having a passion for sport also made learning that little bit easier.
“I really enjoyed the hands-on element to my degree - I learn best through doing things. But in saying that, when we were travelling away with the Aussie Sharks, it made it a bit more difficult as I was lacking that practical element.”
“So it was important for me to make the most of the time I had on campus and the opportunities to learn in person,” he said.
James Clark is fortunate to be able to travel both with the Aussie Sharks and through his role as a Senior Analyst at Fortius Funds Management.
“At Fortius we purchase and manage commercial real estate on behalf of high network and institutional clients,” Clark said.
“Whilst it is essentially an office job, I enjoy getting out and looking at the buildings we are thinking about buying - we acquire assets all over the country so I’m fortunate to be able to squeeze in a bit of domestic travel.”
“I’m very fortunate that Fortius is understanding and accommodating for my Water Polo commitments.
"It’s not easy for any business to take on elite athletes, yet even as a small and lean business Fortius has set the bar high when it comes to providing support and reassurance.”
Clark stressed the importance of attitude and mindset, adding that it is crucial to keep learning.
“Team sport helps you to learn the skills of teamwork, communication and accountability - all things that are just as useful in the water as they are out of the water,” Clark said.
“The big one for me though is learning that you won’t realise your potential by doing the bare minimum.
"I think of it like getting to the pool earlier to warm up properly, or staying in after training to practice shooting - but it also helps if you enjoy what you are doing and I’m lucky to feel that way about work and Water Polo.”
“You should always have a mindset with a focus on willing to learn, rather than the expectation that you should be taught.
“By continually wanting to improve in whatever you do, you’ll be asking questions and draw on the advice from many different people - which is something I’ve found incredibly beneficial.”
Water Polo Australia