Standing on the court at the Minerdome, fond childhood memories come flooding back to Sara Chevaugeon of her time in Ballarat.
The basketballer, who competes in the premier women’s league in France, spent two years in Australia where she played in Basketball Ballarat’s under-12 team.
“I started playing basketball in my home town La Rochelle in France at seven and two years later my dad got a job in Australia,” Chevaugeon said.
Upon arriving in Ballarat with her parents and two brothers, Chevaugeon wanted to continue her passion.
“The first practices were a little bit epic,” she said.
“Because I didn’t speak English at all my dad had to stay around the court during practice and translate to me… but it was really good memories.”
Despite just two years in Ballarat, the family built a connection with the club and the town.
Social media has made it easier for Chevaugeon to stay in touch with her former teammates.
Chevaugeon went on to build a career as a professional player in France, starting with the national institute in Paris before a three-year contract with Lyon in the Ligue Feminine de Basketball, two years with Bourges and now she is heading into her second season with Charleville-Mezieres.
During her journey, Chevaugeon has represented France in the under-17 World Championships, medalled at the European Championships in under-16 and under-18 teams, won a title at the EuroCup and French Cup and made the quarterfinals in EuroLeague.
The 25-year-old said one of her highlights to date had been winning medals with the young national teams.
“It was a month of a half during summers getting all together and playing against other countries. All the parents were there travelling with us, so it was just amazing memories,” she said.
“I’ve done all the young national teams, but I’d love to make it to the national team. I’ve done a couple of camps, but didn’t make it to the final team… it motivates me to work more and the Olympics would be amazing – it’s all athletes’ dream.”
With Chevaugeon chasing her dream, her parents decided to revisit their own.
They made their return to Ballarat 18 months ago.
“My parents fell in love with Australia, they really wanted to come back and live here and the timing was right,” Chevaugeon said.
“The funny thing is they are in the same house as I was 15 years ago.”
During the off-season, Chevaugeon spent two weeks in Ballarat to celebrate her parents’ wedding, which took place on Saturday.
She also had a chance to watch the Ballarat Rush and Miners in home games and revisit childhood memories such as former school Pleasant Street Primary.
As for a stint playing in Australia or even Ballarat? Chevaugeon said she was always open to the possibility.