UNCW hoops coach Karen Barefoot honored by Apprentice School

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WILMINGTON, NC (UNCW Sports)–  Karen Barefoot is a Hall of Famer. Again.

The energetic UNCW women’s basketball coach will be inducted into The Apprentice School (Newport News, Va.) Athletic Hall of Fame in early September. Barefoot was previously honored by Christopher Newport University in 1999 and the USA South Conference in 2010.

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“I’m extremely honored and humbled to be inducted to the inaugural Hall of Fame at the Apprentice School,” said Barefoot, the first player in NCAA history to score 2,000 points and rack up 1,000 assists during her four-year playing career at CNU.

“The Apprentice School will always hold a special place in my heart. We started the first women’s program there and have so many fond memories. I’d like to thank all of those who were a part of that special time in my life, especially the wonderful student-athletes who believed in our vision.

“I want to thank the Apprentice administration for giving me this great opportunity. We couldn’t have accomplished what we did without the support of the assistant coaches, community and loyal fans. It’s a very emotional honor and I accept it on behalf of the many people who built the program over the years.”



The induction is part of The Apprentice School’s 100th year anniversary celebration. Barefoot launched her coaching career with the Builders 25 years ago at the young age of 22 in 1995 and went on to guide the team to a national championship. In six seasons with the Builders, Barefoot compiled a 103-41 record and three national tournament appearances, including the 2001 National Small College Athletic Association Tournament crown.

The Lady Builders went 102-42 in Barefoot’s six seasons and she was named NSCAA Coach of the Year on two occasions. Barefoot was presented with the Peninsula Sports Club’s Special Achievement Award in 2000 and the Board of Directors Award in 2001. Barefoot coached the school’s first All-American in Taffey Thomas, who will also be inducted, and former Academic All-American Keisha Pexton became the first female to serve as athletic director at the school.

Barefoot heads into her third season with the Seahawks in 2019-20 and has transformed the program. In her first year in 2017-18, Barefoot piloted the Seahawks to their best start in 10 seasons after UNCW carved out a 7-4 non-conference record, including a 6-0 start at Trask Coliseum. The Seahawks closed out the campaign with three wins in their final five games, including a 58-47 victory over Towson in the first round of the Colonial Athletic Association Tournament.

In 2018-19, the Seahawks notched the program’s first winning season in seven years. The Seahawks registered their most wins in the CAA in seven seasons (since 2011-12) and featured three players on the All-CAA team for the first time.

The team went 18-12 overall, including a 13-1 mark at home, and 11-7 in the CAA. The Seahawks are 20-9 at Trask Coliseum under Barefoot and a perfect 11-0 vs. non-conference opponents at home.

Barefoot’s ties with The Apprentice School run deep and stretch back five generations. Her grandfather (Lem Wheeler), father (Johnny Barefoot), three uncles (Eddie Barefoot, Phil Wheeler, Robert Wheeler) and nephew (Forrest Barefoot) all graduated from the institution.