WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - UNCW women's basketball coach Karen Barefoot worked with a heavy heart at the Seahawks' team camp Thursday in Trask Coliseum.
Barefoot is still grieving after learning Wednesday of the death of women's basketball great Anne Donovan, who died at age 56 of heart failure.
Barefoot held a moment of silence at camp on Thursday, and then told stories about Donovan, who called Wilmington home.
"A lot of the girls after I spoke at the clinic said, 'Wow, thank you for sharing her story' because she was just an amazing person," Barefoot said. "An incredible player, an incredible coach, Olympic coach, you name it…but she never talked about herself."
Barefoot grew up idolizing Donovan, and two became friends when Barefoot was the head coach at Old Dominion. Donovan led the Monarchs to the 1980 national championship during her college playing career.
"Since I was a kid I really just admired her," said Barefoot. "When I got into coaching, she congratulated me and sent me a picture. I have that picture and have taken it every place I have been. … She was truly an inspiration not just to me, but everyone."
UNCW women's assistant coach Tina Martin had a 25-year friendship with Donovan, and said she had lunch with the Basketball Hall of Fame member a few weeks ago.
"(Donovan) was such a vibrant soul," Martin said. "She was just great to everyone she met. You always felt like you were her best friend."
"That's why it's so hard to put it in words how everyone is feeling right now because she went out of her way for anybody, to give an autograph, to give a talk," Barefoot added. "It was never about her. It was about how she was going to help someone else out.
"What a legacy."