Yough girls soccer coach steps down after outstanding 10-year run

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Tuesday, November 30, 2021 | 1:40 PM


Dann Appolonia has four daughters.

“But it feels like I have 100,” he said. “What a blessing it has been.”

Reflecting back on a decade of memories and the dozens of players he has coached, Appolonia closed the book on a career atop Cougar Mountain.

He is stepping down as the Yough girls soccer coach after 10 seasons.

Appolonia took the job in 2012 and never missed the WPIAL playoffs, guiding the Cougars to four semifinal appearances, one WPIAL final and a PIAA playoff trip.

“I have been involved in Yough soccer for over 20 years now,” said Appolonia, 55. “It’s basically been my only hobby. I’m not getting any younger, so it was just time to say, enough.”

His 2019 team went 17-3-1 and reached the WPIAL Class 2A final and advanced to the PIAA tournament.

Appolonia started coaching in the Yough Youth Soccer Association in 2001 and was the organization’s president from 2002-12.

After guiding the middle school program from 2010-11 — the team did not lose a section game — he moved on to the varsity and propelled the Cougars to four section titles.

He coached his daugters, including Justine Appolonia, who graduated as the program’s all-time leading scorer before moving on to Youngstown State.

Dann Appolonia finished with a record of 134-46-6, including a mark of 89-23-2 in section games.

“I’ve met a lot of wonderful people along the way, many that I consider life-long friends,” he said. “There are many, many individuals who helped build the Yough program — a lot of coaches at the youth level who gave their time to help the kids, many of those coaches had to learn the game themselves first.

“All the parents who bought into the ideas of what it would take to make the program successful, committing to playing the game all year long, not just a handful of games in the spring and fall being one example.”

Respected by his coaching peers, Appolonia’a teams always were a tough out.

“I thought he was resigning at the top of his game,” Southmoreland coach Josh Pajak said. “He developed great teams, but I felt these past two seasons may have been his best in terms of getting the most out of his teams.

“Nearly impossible to beat him twice in the same season.”

Appolonia said the players bought into what became a positive culture.

“They put in the effort to build a winning tradition,” he said. “I will forever be grateful to every player who donned the Yough uniform with pride. It has always been about them. It’s not what I did for them; it’s what they did for me. They have all meant so much to me for the past 20 years. We accomplished a lot together.”

Yough will return a number of key players next year, including standouts McKenzie Pritts and Kendalyn Umbel.

“I know when next fall comes around, I’m going to miss teaching at practices and the excitement of game day,” said Appolonia, a former standout soccer player at Ringgold who gave up the game when he went to Pitt. “When you’re as competitive as I am, it’s hard to replace the energy you feel during a big game. But I just felt it was time to move on, knowing that no matter when I decided to leave, it would be difficult. I’m sure I’ll be at a lot of games next year supporting the ladies.

“I’ll never stop being a Yough Cougar.”

Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Bill by email at bbeckner@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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