Sara D’Appolonia | From Maine to Melbourne

Sara D’Appolonia’s journey from Portland, Maine to Melbourne Victory was a scenic one and earned her a few stamps on her passport along the way.

Coming from a “very sporty family”, D’Appolonia – who juggled football, basketball, and track-and-field throughout her early years – credits her parents’ support in fostering her passion for football.

“My dad was very involved,” she says, becoming her “right-hand man getting me to and from club events before I was able to drive”.

“My mum was actually my basketball coach, and I think she probably would’ve liked me to pursue track a bit more. Nonetheless, both were super supportive…they knew the time commitment and sacrifice that went into pursuing sport.”

Her undeniable talents took her to the University of Delaware, where she starred in the midfield and up forward (racking up seven game-winning goals). When the football season was cancelled due to COVID-19 her junior year, she set her sights elsewhere.

“I went and played in Spain for a period of time,” she explains.

“There’s a league over there which my college coach was super supportive of.”

Following her college years, she moved halfway across the world to continue her career with Peninsula Power FC, before signing with Melbourne Victory on Deadline Day in October 2023. The transition from Delaware to Spain, to Brisbane, to Melbourne – not to mention the impact on playing style – would be challenging, to say the least. D’Appolonia took it all in her stride.

“Spain was a super technical, possession-style side,” Sara explained.

“Delaware had its own style, possession at times but also more direct. Coming over here (to Australia), I’ve played for two different teams now, so with each move it’s definitely been a transition. But I’ve adapted.”

Her ability to transition to the Victory style is evident, she’s started in 11 games so far this season.

Upon her arrival in Australia, self-described “small-town girl” D’Appolonia experienced all that city life has to offer alongside a particularly fitting bonus: Australia hosting last year’s FIFA Women’s World Cup. Following the action (she admits to supporting both the Matilda’s and the USWNT), she remembers the “atmosphere was just amazing, I hadn’t been to many professional games like that before. Just to see the turnout was pretty special”.

The effect of the Women’s World Cup has been massive for women and girls across the world, D’Appolonia included.

“For me, it’s made me realise I can have a true impact on even just the smallest communities,” she explains.

“Since coming over here, I’ve actually got into coaching quite a bit. It’s been really fun to share my passion with a group of girls who have aspirations to be in the shoes I’m in today.”

D’Appolonia’s excited for what the rest of the season has to offer – “We had a bit of a mid-season lull,” she admits.

“But demonstrated some great perseverance, and I think that’s just a testament to our team culture and overall cohesiveness as a club”

She credits her teammates and the Victory coaching staff for making the transition so seamless. “They want to see you succeed, not just as a player but as a person.”

Never strays too far from football, Sara lives in a share-house with six of her Victory teammates. While “work talk” is off the table in some households, it’s a “happy balance” in the Victory house.

“It’s really unique to have your teammates around you and to be able to bounce ideas off one another, and vent when needed, or just rehash what’s going on within training or games.”

As for the tidiest housemate? “I gotta go with Jamilla (Rankin). She likes to keep things in order, I’ll give her credit for that!”