"Success Leaves Footprints"
Karen Barefoot began her coaching career as one of the youngest head coaches in the country and has a proven herself as a winner that has made history in resurrecting programs, winning championships and producing success in the classroom and in the community. Each and every day, on and off the court, Barefoot brings limitless energy, focus, dedication and motivation to her program and her passion for the game of basketball is unparalleled.
Her life in basketball has been highlighted with firsts, starting with becoming the first player in NCAA history, male or female, to score over 2,000 points and accumulate 1,000 assists. While at Christopher Newport, she was first in the nation in assists all four years and was the first player featured in the Sports Illustrated Faces in the Crowd in 1994.
Following her playing career, Barefoot began her coaching journey at the ripe age of 22 at The Apprentice School, where she began the first ever women's athletics program. Under her tutelage, the Lady Builders women’s basketball program quickly achieved respectability and captured Apprentice's first national title in 2001 by winning the National Small College Athletic Association tournament. That season she became the school’s first National Coach of the Year. Barefoot proved to be a strong mentor at a young age, as her former Academic All-American Keisha Pexton became the first female to serve as the Athletic Director and the first African-American to hold a manager-level position at The Apprentice School since its inception in 1919.
In 2001, she began at Lenoir-Rhyne where she led the program to its first South Atlantic Conference regular season title, SAC Tournament Championship and its first-ever trip to the NCAA Division II National Tournament. Barefoot also coached Lenoir-Rhyne’s first NCAA First Team All-American, SAC Player of the Year and SAC Tournament Most Valuable Player in Crystal Clary. From Lenoir-Rhyne she became an assistant under the famous Wendy Larry for three seasons, before taking over the Elon women’s basketball program in 2008. She helped the program reach new heights in 2010-11, as the Phoenix finished the season with a 20-13 record, the program’s best season at the Division I level. That year the team also made an appearance in the Women’s Basketball Invitational, the first postseason appearance in program history since joining Division I. Her player, Ali Ford, was also named the program’s first Freshman of the Year and First Team All-Conference honoree in its Division I era.
In 2011 Barefoot was named the fearless leader of the ODU women’s basketball program and has been at the helm for five seasons, leading the Lady Monarchs to plenty of success. This past season, Barefoot led the program to the C-USA Tournament championship game for the first time since joining the league andplayed an instrumental role in the program’s second-consecutive Education Day sellout, a game that has turned into a Norfolk Public Schools staple. She brought the idea to ODU in 2011 and saw the first ever women’s basketball sell out at the Ted Constant Center in 2014. Barefoot’s mentoring also led to Jennie Simms becoming ODU women’s basketball first Conference USA Newcomer of the Year and a two-time First Team All-Conference honoree for the first time since T.J. Jordan earned two accolades in 2007 and 2008 from the CAA. Barefoot also saw Simms, along with her first WNBA Champion Shae Kelley, score 1,000 points in just two years, marking the first time since Clarisse Machanguana achieved that feat in the mid-90’s.
In 18 years as a head coach, Barefoot has compiled 14 winning seasons and is just four wins away from her 300th head coaching win. She has been a part of nine national post-season tournament appearances and has won two National Coach of the Year awards, as the passionate mentor begins her 19th season as a head coach and sixth as the leader of the Lady Monarchs in 2016-17.