With an energy level that captivated the room, new UNCW women’s basketball coach Karen Barefoot promised a team that would be one of the nation’s leaders in “high fives and floor burns” and feature a “teal collar worth ethic” in remarks Wednesday during her introductory press conference at the Nixon Administration Building adjacent to stately Trask Coliseum.
Barefoot formally accepted the post two weeks ago, but personal obligations and recruiting needs delayed her first public appearance. A large crowd in the home office of UNCW Athletics watched intently as the veteran coach laid out plans to revitalize UNCW’s women’s basketball program.
“I want to thank Chancellor (Zito) Sartarelli for this unbelievable opportunity,” the animated Barefoot said. “I’m looking forward to growing this program into something special and something that everyone can be proud of.
“There are so many great things are going on here and I want to be part of it. I’ve been overwhelmed by the love and support shown by everyone.”
Barefoot, with several family members in the audience, returns to North Carolina for the third time after stops at Lenoir-Rhyne and Elon and channeled Grammy award-winning singer and guitarist James Taylor. “There’s something about North Carolina that’s special to me,” she noted. “I am so proud to be a Seahawk, I’m so excited and I’m all-in.”
A nationally-known coach who has built successful programs at four different institutions, Barefoot is the 11th head coach in UNCW history. The Virginia native takes over after six successful seasons at Old Dominion, where she guided the Lady Monarchs to a 103-93 record, including five winning seasons and three postseason appearances.
Barefoot guided ODU to a 17-14 record last season, including an 11-7 mark in Conference USA play. The Lady Monarchs advanced to the Conference USA quarterfinals before bowing to league runner-up Southern Miss. In addition, she posted a pair of milestone victories during the season, winning her 100th game as the Lady Monarchs’ coach against Charlotte on Feb. 19 after notching her 300th victory as a head coach against VCU on Dec. 9, 2016.
Prior to taking over at ODU, Barefoot was the head coach for three seasons at CAA rival Elon, piloting the Phoenix to 37 victories, including the program’s first 20-win season in 2010-11, along with an appearance in the Women’s Basketball Invitational.
Barefoot spent three years as an assistant coach at ODU from 2005-08, helping the Lady Monarchs compile a 77-23 record with three CAA tournament championships. ODU won at least 22 games in each season, including a 31-5 mark in 2007-08 with an appearance in the Sweet 16.
In four seasons as the head coach at Lenoir-Rhyne, Barefoot piloted the program to a 70-44 record, including the school’s first-ever appearance in the NCAA Division II National Tournament during the 2002-03 campaign after winning the program’s first South Atlantic Conference Tournament championship.
Barefoot began her coaching career as the head coach at The Apprentice School in Newport News from 1995-2001, earning NSCAA Coach-of-the-Year honors twice. In six seasons with the Builders, Barefoot compiled a 103-41 record with three national postseason tournament appearances, including the 2001 National Small College Athletic Association Tournament title.
A 1995 graduate of Christopher Newport, Barefoot steered the Captains to three NCAA Tournament appearances, including a run to the Sweet 16 during her freshman season. During her career, she posted a 73-34 overall record and was a three-time Kodak/WBCA All-America selection while claiming All-USA South Atlantic Conference Player-of-the-Year honors twice.