Experience: 6th year with the Lady Monarchs
Karen Barefoot began her coaching career as one of the youngest head coaches at the age of 22 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. Throughout Barefoot’s 21-year coaching career, she has been a part of 16 winning seasons and holds an overall coaching record of 373-244. She has resurrected three different programs, which included creating postseason opportunities and reaching first ever championships, as well as elevating academic success. Each and every day, on and off the court, the two-time Hall of Famer brings limitless energy, focus, dedication and motivation to her program and her passion for the game of basketball is unparalleled.
In 18 years as a head coach, Barefoot has compiled 14 winning seasons, nine national post-season tournament appearances and has won two National Coach of the Year awards. The passionate mentor begins her 19th season as a head coach and sixth as the fearless leader of the Lady Monarchs in 2016-17.
After taking over the roll of "Conference Captain," the NCAA representative from Conference USA, in 2015-16, Barefoot is set to represent the league once more for the upcoming season. She also represents the NCAA Mideast Region, which oversees the MEAC, OVC, Sun Belt, A-Sun, MAC, SEC and SoCon and is one of just four regions in the country. Barefoot is also a WBCA facilitator for the Coaching Mentorship program.
Most recently, Barefoot helped guide the Lady Monarchs to their 1,000th program victory, becoming just the fourth school in NCAA Division I women’s basketball to do so. One of Barefoot’s greatest achievements at ODU is establishing the annual Education Day game, which enters its sixth year in 2016-17. The Education Day game has been a sell-out the past two seasons and, in 2014-15, was the first ODU women’s basketball sell-out at The Ted.
YEAR-BY-YEAR AT OLD DOMINION
The good times kept rolling, as Barefoot played an instrumental role in ODU becoming just the fourth Division I women’s basketball program to reach 1,000 wins with a win on Dec. 15 at Howard. The Lady Monarchs joined Tennessee, Louisiana Tech and James Madison on the 1,000 wins list.
Old Dominion entered Conference USA play with a 4-8 non-conference record, but the Lady Monarchs made their presence known. Conference action began on Jan. 3, when ODU defeated Charlotte, 71-59, behind three players in double-figure points.
At Middle Tennessee two weeks later, the Lady Monarchs again made some noise, this time on the national scale. With less than a second on the clock, freshman Makayla Timmons drilled a 40-foot three-pointer in front of her family and friends from Columbia, Tenn., to lift ODU over MTSU, 61-58. Timmons’ shot was heard and seen around the world, as it was featured as the No. 7 play on ESPN’s SportsCenter Top-10 Plays segment that night. Not only did the shot make television, but coach Barefoot and the Old Dominion Lady Monarchs handed MTSU head coach Rick Insell just his sixth home conference loss since joining the Blue Raiders’ program 11 years ago.
The Lady Monarchs closed the season winning five of their last six games, which included a spectacular run to the Conference USA championship game. ODU downed No. 13 North Texas, No. 4 Charlotte and No. 1 seed UTEP, before falling to No. 2 Middle Tennessee in the title match. Barefoot helped two players etch their names in the tournament record book, as Ije Ajemba tied the tournament record with 21 rebounds against the 49ers and Jennie Simms finished the tournament with 98 points, ranking her third all-time. Simms was also named to the all-tournament team for the second time.
The passionate coach inspired her team to be a defensive force in conference games and finished the season ranked in the top five in six defensive categories. The Lady Monarchs topped the league in rebounding margin (+6.7), while ranking second in field-goal percentage defense (.397), defensive rebounds (25.6) and defensive rebounding percentage (.691). The team was also third in scoring defense (62.2) and rebounding defense (33.6). As a team, ODU corralled 137 steals against league foes, including a season-high 13 against North Texas on March 3.
Simms, the 2015 C-USA Newcomer of the Year, repeated as a Conference USA All-Conference First Team selection under Barefoot's tutelage, as the two-time C-USA Player of the Week finished the season as the league’s overall (21.4) and conference (22.2) scoring leader. Simms became the program's first two-time First Team All-Conference honoree since T.J. Jordan earned two accolades in 2007 and 2008 from the CAA. She had poured in double-digits 28 times this season and was the only player in C-USA to notch 35-plus points three times. She also held the conference top scoring mark for the season after a 39-point onslaught at UTSA. In all, Simms had five 30-plus point performances in the 2015-16 campaign, the most in C-USA.
Off the court, the Lady Monarchs had seven players receive Conference USA Commissioner’s Honor Roll recognition and the team was one of six Old Dominion programs to achieve a perfect APR score for the 2014-15 school year, a drastic turnaround since Barefoot took over the program.
The Lady Monarchs highlighted the season by picking up the program’s first ever win at LA Tech in a 72-71 thrilling victory on national television and on the fourth annual Education Day game on Dec. 3, the program saw its first ever sellout at the Ted Constant Center. The crowd of 8,472 marked the seventh highest attendance ever in the state of Virginia to watch a regular season college women’s basketball game. The attendance was also the second largest for a Lady Monarchs regular season game ever.
Shae Kelley, a former Barefoot recruit, was selected No. 35 overall in the 2015 WNBA Draft by the Minnesota Lynx. Kelley played two seasons under Barefoot at ODU and became one of just five players in the school’s illustrious history to surpass 1,000 points scored in a player’s first two seasons at the school. Kelley also became just the fourth Lady Monarch to claim a WNBA Championship, winning the 2015 crown with the Lynx. Barefoot also mentored 2015 graduate Tiffany Minor, who was named a conference nominee for the prestigious NCAA Woman of the Year award.
Barefoot stressed the importance of academics as well and had a total of eight Lady Monarchs earned a 3.0 GPA or higher for the academic year. She was an instrumental part of the program improving upon its multi and single-year APR standings and receiving a perfect single-year APR score of 1000 for the third time during her tenure.
Barefoot helped Shae Kelley land 2014 All-Conference USA First Team honors, as well as guided the Lady Monarchs to attaining a cumulative team GPA over 3.0 and had six players named to the C-USA Academic Honor Roll, including two Academic Medal recipients. Barefoot and company reeled in the No. 43 recruiting class in the nation, which was the highest-ranked class in Conference USA. Under her leadership, senior Becca Allison received the C-USA Spirit of Service Award and freshman Jennie Simms was named the NAACP’s Female Athlete of the Year.
At the conclusion of the season, Barefoot guided Ashley Betz-White to CAA Rookie of the Year honors and helped Betz-White and Myeisha Hall earn All-Rookie honors. Senior Tia Lewis was named to the All-CAA squad, All State and earned a tryout with the WNBA’s Washington Mystics, while Mairi Buchan was named First-Team All-Academic and CoSIDA First-Team All-Academic.
First win at ODU: 77-76 vs Alabama (11/24/11 | Paradise Jam)
PRIOR TO OLD DOMINION
Before becoming the Lady Monarchs' head coach, Barefoot held the head coaching positions at Elon, Lenoir Rhyne and The Apprentice School and was the assistant coach under Wendy Larry at ODU for three seasons.
Barefoot served as the head coach at Elon from 2008-2011 and 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 and only the fifth team in program history to reach the 20-win plateau. The Phoenix 11 home victories marked the most home wins in a single season in the Division I era, while the team’s postseason appearance in the Women’s Basketball Invitational was the first since joining Division I. Elon recorded its 20th win of the season in the WBI. Barefoot also led Elon to 12 victories in SoCon play, doubling their 2009-10 total and tying the 2003-04 squad for the most SoCon wins in a season.
Barefoot displayed her recruiting strength by bringing in Ali Ford, the North Carolina Athlete of the Year coming out of high school. During her collegiate career, Ford became the first ever Freshman of the Year honoree at Elon in its Division I era. After graduating, she continued her playing career and represented the USA in the 2015 FIBA Games.
Prior to coming to Elon, Barefoot was an assistant coach at Old Dominion, where the team compiled a 77- 23 record, won three CAA Championships and was a perennial top-25 program. In 2007-08, ODU advanced to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament, defeating 12th-seeded Liberty and fourth-seeded Virginia, which to this day is one of the most memorable games in the history of the Ted Constant Convocation Center. The Lady Monarchs completed 2007-08 with a 31-5 record. Along with its 17th consecutive Colonial Athletic Association crown, ODU earned a ranking as high as 11th in the nation.
While at Lenoir-Rhyne, Barefoot captured the first South Atlantic Conference regular season title in school history in 2003-04 en route to claiming league Coach of the Year honors. Under her leadership, the team also grabbed the first SAC tournament championship in school history in 2002-03. That year, the team finished the season ranked eighth in the region following its first-ever trip to the NCAA Division II National Tournament. In her first year at Lenoir-Rhyne, she led the program to its best record in 15 years, going 19-9. Barefoot coached the first NCAA First Team All-American in Crystal Clary, who led the nation in rebounding her junior season, and the first ever SAC Player of the year in Hall of Fame inductee Maya Gady. Additionally, under her guidance the Bears had four student-athletes earn All-SAC honors and 13 student-athletes named to the SAC Commissioner’s honor roll.
Barefoot's coaching journey began at the ripe age of 22 at The Apprentice School, where she began the first ever women's athletics program at the school in 1995. Under her tutelage, the Lady Builders quickly achieved respectability and captured Apprentice's first national title in 2001 by winning the National Small College Athletic Association tournament. They repeated in 2002, winning the national tournament of the United States Collegiate Athletic Association. Her Lady Builders teams were 102-42 through six seasons as the head coach and she was twice named the NSCAA Coach of the Year. She added to her collection of eight MVP awards from the Peninsula Sports Club while playing, with the Special Achievement award in 2000 and the Board of Directors award in 2001 for her time and efforts at the Apprentice School. During her time, she coached her first All-American in Taffey Thomas in 1999 and went on to total seven All-Americans and four Academic All-Americans over her tenure. Barefoot also 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.
Just as she expects out of her players, Barefoot is an extremely active member of the community, being involved in the Lady Monarchs Hoops for the Cure, Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure, Coaches vs. Cancer and visiting countless schools. She started the first ever ODU “Education Day” game, which has turned into a Norfolk Public Schools staple, and “Barefootin’ Night” to support Samaritan’s Feet. She started Barefoot Basketball Camps in 1995, which has improved overall skills and fundamental development of children from all over the country. She is also heavily involved in the Lady Monarchs annual golf tournament, which raised more than $50,000 in 2016. Since its inception in 2002, the tournament has raised, after expenses, in excess of $700,000 for the for Lady Monarch’s program and over $250,000 during her head coaching tenure.
Passionate, dynamic and inspiring Barefoot is also a master motivator, not only of teams, but also of individuals and organizations, encouraging them to succeed beyond even their own expectations. She is one of the top speakers in the Hampton Roads area, speaking at a multitude of organizations, school graduations and professional development settings. She highlighted 2016 by being the feature speaker at Norfolk Shipbuilding, a place where she was a fifth generation worker while coaching at The Apprentice School, and the Norfolk, Chesapeake and Peninsula Sports Clubs.
PLAYING DAYS AT CHRISTOPHER NEWPORT
A 1995 graduate of Christopher Newport University, Barefoot led the Captains to three NCAA tournaments, including a Sweet 16 run as a freshman. During her career, she posted a 73-34 overall record and 35-9 mark in conference play, leading the team to three regular season titles and a conference tournament trophy. Individually, she earned three Kodak/WBCA All-America honors and was a three-time All-Region selection. She also earned First Team All-Conference honors all four years and was named the league’s Player of the Year on two occasions. Barefoot holds the recognition of being the first player in NCAA history, male or female, to score over 2,000 points and accumulate 1,000 assists during her career. The standout guard posted 1,002 assists, leading the nation all four years and was featured in the Sports Illustrated Faces in the Crowd in 1994. She was recognized as one of Christopher Newport University’s 50th Anniversary Distinguished Alumni and was inducted in the CNU Athletics Hall of Fame in 1999.
After her collegiate career ended, Barefoot was invited to several WNBA training camps and had many offers to play overseas, but she made the decision to begin her coaching career in lieu of playing. Her career path did not deter the scouts, as she still received invitations while she was in the midst of coaching at The Apprentice School. Barefoot pulled double duty in 1998, as she participated in the Utah Starzz training camp in their inaugural year.
WHAT OTHERS ARE SAYING ABOUT COACH BAREFOOT
“ODU is back where it belongs, winning and playing the game at a high level. It’s exciting to see what’s happening with our program. Our player’s passion is matched by Karen and her staff. So proud!”
“ODU women’s basketball has a history and tradition of academic commitment and athletic excellence. It’s a joy to watch the ‘Barefoot Bunch’ embrace and continue that with such passion and tenacity.”
“Coach Barefoot is one of the most inspiring coaches in the game of basketball today. She has an authentic teaching style that is fitting for today’s ball player. She inspires and motivates like no one else."
"Coach Barefoot is on of the most energetic coaches you’ll see and she brings a wealth of experience to women’s basketball. Her desire to be successful is very evident in the student-athletes she puts on the floor. Her up-tempo, play hard all the time style is fun to watch.”
YEAR-BY-YEAR AS HEAD COACH