There are two moments Kate Strickland felt a really satisfying sense of achievement – one in an Olympic stadium in Beijing, and the other in her living room in Brighton.
The former elite athlete turned high-profile real estate agent had many crowning moments while representing Australia in softball, which is something she did a whopping 143 times.
But wearing the green-and-gold and winning bronze at the Beijing Olympics qualifier is a real standout.
When her sporting career came to an end some 15 years back, Ms Strickland pursued another passion – selling property.
And much like her athletic pursuits, the director of Marshall White in Brighton has reached the top of her game, being named one of Australia’s top agents by Real Estate Business for three years running.
Ms Strickland invited realestate.com.au into her own home as part of the new Agent Abode series, which goes beyond the front doors of some of property’s biggest performers.
“When we were shopping for a home, we didn’t mind if it was renovated or unrenovated,” she recalled. “It just turned out we found something we could put our own spin on. We got exactly what we hoped for.
“It was completely unrenovated – very liveable and enjoyable though. We knocked out five rooms in the back to open it up into one big living space.
“We’ve got four bedrooms – two down, two up – and three bathrooms. There’s a beautiful study area, a kitchen with butler’s pantry, then opening out onto a north-facing deck, a pool, and a grassed area.”
Kate playing for Australia at the Softball World Championship in 2006. Picture: Getty
Elements of the home’s original character and charm have been lovingly retained, from its refreshed Edwardian façade to the soaring 3.8m high ceilings throughout, with a 10m void to the top of the second story.
“We’ve got lovely vistas from up there,” she said. “We can see the city from up top.”
The rear part of the house is its most jaw-dropping feature, with a 10m by 10m open plan living area comprising lounge, dining and kitchen.
Kate has been working in real estate for 15 years now. Picture: Marshall White
“When people walk in and come down the hall into this room, they sort of go ‘wow’ – they didn’t expect this,” she said.
“I’m most proud that we did this – it was our vision. The enormous back area is just so bright and so open. It’s the hub of the house.”
It plays host to gathering with friends and family, but plenty of quiet nights on the coach with her husband Thomas and their 18-month-old son Zac.
“It’s the full package as a family home. It’s home.
“It’s just a homely home that’s beautiful for entertaining and having people around, but when it’s just us in here and we’re on the couch in our trackies, hanging out in front of the television, it’s perfect.”
The mammoth renovation of her Brighton family home is one of Kate's proudest achievements. Picture: realestate.com.au
At 19, Ms Strickland was awarded a scholarship to study and play softball at an American university. When she returned to Australia at 22, she snapped up an apartment in McKinnon in Melbourne’s southeast.
She has bought and sold countless times since then and taken on several renovations and a couple of developments.
“Real estate isn’t just a job for me – it’s a lifestyle,” Ms Strickland said.
Kate represented Australia in softball more than 140 times. Picture: Marshall White
She’s not surprised a number of former elite sportspeople have wound up becoming realtors, from former North Melbourne and Geelong star Cam Mooney to Essendon premiership player Jason Johnson.
“Persistence, leadership, teamwork, communication, resilience – that’s what makes you a top sports person and real estate is exactly the same,” she said, half-jokingly adding: “It just pays better, especially for women.”
While Ms Strickland has sold countless homes for her clients, she can’t see a day where she offloads her own Brighton pad.
“To get more than 600sqm in this location, renovated, with a north-facing aspect… we’re so happy. We will never part with this.”