Sports Stars: Two Sidwell Friends Coaches Earn Hall-of-Fame Honors
This fall, the District of Columbia Sports Athletic Association (DCSAA) inducted two former Sidwell Friends coaches—George Leftwich (football and basketball) and Sheila Weaver (volleyball)—into its Hall of Fame. “It is a thrill to welcome this incredible collection of men and women to the DCSAA High School Hall of Fame,” says Clark Ray, the executive director of the DCSAA, which serves District of Columbia public schools, public charter schools, and independent private and parochial schools. Since the DCSAA formed in 2012, student-athlete participation in the city has shot up. As for the new slate of Hall of Fame coaches, “their contributions to athletics are immense,” Ray says. “Without these men and women, we would not be where we are today.”
That is certainly true of Coach Sheila Weaver, who successfully led the Sidwell Friends girls’ volleyball team to a whopping five league titles and more than 200 victories. Before that, she was the first female sports administrator at Union College in Schenectady, New York; there, she was also the first person to coach three different varsity programs—leading the women’s tennis, softball, and volleyball teams to their first victories in the school’s history. Weaver also founded the Academic and Athletic Alliance of Washington, DC, a nonprofit that works with underserved communities, coaches, athletes, and administrators in various sports around the country. The alliance helps young athletes balance academics and sports, so they can find paths to college and to success.
“Sheila was one of the first people my family met who welcomed us into the Sidwell Friends community and the world of volleyball,” says Candace Novoselnik ’98, the current Sidwell Friends varsity volleyball head coach, who actually played for Coach Weaver herself while a student at Sidwell Friends. “At that time, volleyball was dominated and mainly played on California beaches and at West Coast schools,” Novoselnik says. “Coach Weaver promoted the sport.” And not just at Sidwell Friends. Through the Academic and Athletic Alliance, she brought legendary beach-volleyball players like Sinjin Smith and Olympic gold medalist Karch Kiraly (now the head coach of the U.S. Women’s National Volleyball Team) to the nation’s capital to introduce volleyball to inner-city students at camps and clinics. “Coach Weaver was able to merge the community and the sport of volleyball,” Novoselnik says. “She was a true ambassador for growing the sport’s diversity and making it as competitive as basketball, especially among young African American kids.”
For George Leftwich, induction into the DCSAA High School Hall of Fame is yet another feather in his cap; he’s already a member of the University of the District of Columbia Hall of Fame. Leftwich, a local, was a star basketball player at Archbishop Carroll High School in Northeast DC before heading to Villanova University for college. But when the Detroit Pistons drafted Leftwich, he opted not to head to the NBA. Even then, Leftwich was destined for a career in coaching, a career that spanned five decades and stayed local. He coached at his alma mater, Archbishop Carroll; at Gwynn Park High School in Maryland, where he won a pair of state titles and was named coach of the year; at Georgetown University, where he assisted his former high school teammate, John Thompson, who’s also a DCSAA Class of 2020 Hall of Famer; at the University of the District of Columbia; and, ultimately, at Sidwell Friends, where he coached the Quakers in basketball and football for 13 years.
John Simon, the Sidwell Friends head football coach, says: “George was a pleasure to have as an assistant varsity coach and was always willing to learn about the game of football. We had several championship football teams in the time George was a coach.”
Simon specifically remembers a tough game against Potomac, in which Leftwich was pivotal. “We were driving downfield, trying to get in the endzone and win with only two minutes left in the game,” Simon says. “We called a timeout to discuss what play we wanted to run with our quarterback, Nasser Muhammad ’05, who was also the starting point guard for George on the Sidwell Friends basketball team.” But when Muhammad came to the sidelines, he asked for a break. Before Simon could say anything, “George said, ‘Nasser, you don’t need a break, you are the starting quarterback, and we need you to win this game,’” Simon says. “Nasser looked at me and George and said, ‘Okay, coach, if you insist.’ Nasser returned to the field, and two plays later, he ran for the game-winning touchdown! I owe George that win, and I will never forget that game!”
Sheila Weaver and George Leftwich join Sidwell Friends Coach Anne Renninger (inducted in 2018) in the DCSAA Hall of Fame. #GoQuakers!
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