UNCW Coach Takayo Siddle on the basketball court

November 3, 2020

Takayo Siddle dreamt of playing for UNCW men’s basketball coach Jerry Wainwright, but fate had a different plan. Instead of donning a Seahawk jersey, Siddle would become the team’s head coach years later.
“It’s a dream come true to be sitting here as the head coach,” Siddle said. “I love Wilmington and I love the basketball program. Everything about this place is so special to me. It worked out well and I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
Siddle, a native of Eden, NC, took over the helm of the men’s basketball team in March 2020. He previously served as an assistant coach under Kevin Keatts at both UNCW and NC State. Siddle had a short stint as interim head coach for the Seahawks in 2017 before joining Keatts at NC State. Siddle was in the process of building his program at UNCW when COVID-19 pandemic hit the U.S., sidelining recruiting efforts and team meetings. Scouting trips were replaced with virtual meetings, phone calls and text messages. Siddle met his players for the first time in-person in August.
“The biggest challenge was getting to know my players,” he said. “We spent a lot of time calling them and we did a couple of Zoom team meetings per week and I would FaceTime them during individual meetings, just trying to get to know them a little bit and for them to get to know me as well. It’s been challenging, but I think we have a good foundation set right now.”
Dealing with the pandemic as a team has strengthened the bond between the coaches and players, and the team has navigated practices with COVID-19 safety protocols in place.

“You never know when someone is going to wake up with symptoms, and you have to put the program on pause. So, it’s been tough trying to find consistency. Every week is going to look different,” said Siddle. “We’ve embraced these uncommon times versus letting it be an excuse. We’ve had a ‘get it done by any means’ attitude.”

One part of the job he enjoys but hasn’t been able to participate in is outreach to the community and to the schools. “I haven’t been able to talk to people, go out and shake hands, get out so people can get to know me,” Siddle said. “It’s been tough. Hopefully, we’ll get back to some normalcy around this time next year.”

When asked what people should know about him, Siddle responded, “As a coach, I’m a sore loser,” he said with a laugh. “I’m pretty intense, strictly business and to the point and I expect my guys to compete at a high level and compete like champions. Something most people don’t know about me is that I am momma’s boy and I talk to my mom every night before bed. My mother inspires me, on a daily basis, by how hard she works and she never complains about it. She is my hero.”

For Siddle, coaching isn’t all about championships, it’s also about helping young adults become better men through mentoring them on and off the court.

“I want all of my players to graduate, become great men, great husbands, great fathers and great leaders,” he said. “I also want all of my players to be successful in life in general.”

-- Venita Jenkins