New Faces in Sidwell Athletics: Pope, Toure, and Teasley

After coaches from the volleyball, field hockey and soccer programs left Sidwell at the end of last year, the athletic program welcomed Coaches Ibrahim Toure, Myles Teasley and Janessa Pope this year. These coaches bring different experiences and backgrounds to Sidwell and each strive to cultivate winning atmospheres.

Before arriving at Sidwell, Toure served as Landon’s Assistant Varsity Soccer Coach and a French teacher. His love for soccer started at a young age, but he also had a short stint on the basketball court, a sport that he was initially forced into but still loves today. Toure attended the University of Connecticut, where he majored in sports management. After college, he took a temporary position at Sidwell Middle School.

According to Toure, Sidwell made him “feel right at home” almost immediately. When presented with the opportunity to work a full-time position, he returned to Sidwell as the Boys’ Varsity Soccer Head Coach.

In his first season as head coach, Toure looks to ingrain his core value of connection within the soccer team, both on and off the field. By cultivating relationships between players, Toure looks to not only improve the chemistry and performance on the field, but to also establish lifelong friendships.

One of the first things he told the team was that he hopes when someone on the team has a wedding, some of the groomsmen will be other members of the team, as many of the best men at his wedding were past teammates.

Toure looks forward to watching his team grow and foster  relationships sparked by everyone’s love for the game.

Janessa Pope, the new head coach for Girls’ Field Hockey, also brings valuable experience to the table. Praised as “enthusiastic, knowledgeable and strategic” by junior Margot Wheeler, she grew up in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania and enjoyed playing soccer and field hockey, as well as running track. Pope pursued field hockey as her primary sport in high school and went on to play for the University of Maryland.

Before arriving at Sidwell, Pope worked at Montgomery County Public Schools as a speech pathologist and in special education for preschoolers. Although she was not actively searching for a new position, Pope was captivated by Sidwell’s atmosphere during her interviews. She also loved talking with the field hockey team and knew it would be a great fit.

Pope also emphasized her appreciation that all of the Sidwell sports programs “[share] this intensity and effort to make every team as good as [they can] possibly be.” She expressed her gratitude for Sidwell’s “drive to really push the athletes and the coaches,” which encourages her to continue motivating her athletes.

This year, Pope is focused on improving every player in the field hockey program, from 7/8 to Varsity. As well as strengthening the program, she also wants to increase the popularity of the sport and bring as many fans to games as possible. Overall, Pope is excited for the future of field hockey at Sidwell.

Myles Teasley also joined Sidwell this year as Varsity Volleyball Head Coach and an Upper School history teacher. From recreational basketball to fencing in college to playing volleyball throughout graduate school, Teasley involved himself in a variety of sports before coaching volleyball.

Teasley initially moved to the Washington area for graduate school, where he studied Middle East and African Studies. He wanted to bridge the gap between his initial work in politics and his love for education.

Teasley is invested in building a new culture on the volleyball team that aligns with what he feels is “a marriage of the core Sidwells values” with volleyball. His goals for the season are to make sure every student-athlete wants to come back next season and to encourage others to join.

As Toure, Pope and Teasley gain experience over the next few years, they expect success from their respective teams. All three are not only extremely dedicated to current performance, but are also on a path to fostering community-based environments, something that almost always results in long-run success.