Karen Middleton begins her sixth season as the Head Coach of the Western Carolina women's basketball team. She was named the 10th head coach of Western Carolina Women's Basketball on May 15, 2009.
Since taking over the helm of the Catamount women's program, she has had two All-Southern Conference selection in Emily Clarke and Kaila'Shea Menendez as well as three Southern Conference All-Freshman Team selections in Rena Wakama, Ali Lane and Lindsay Simpson. She has also had a First Team SoCon All Tournament selection in Justin Taylor in 2014. Menendez (2012) and Wakama (2014) were also named to the Southern Conference All-Tournament Second Team.
The Catamounts went the farthest in the SoCon tournament, since winning the tournament title in 2009, in 2014 when WCU reached the semi-finals of the SoCon Championships before falling to Davidson. As the No. 7 seed, WCU defeated No. 2 seed Furman to make it to the semi-finals.
Prior to coming to Western Carolina, Middleton spent two years as an assistant at University of Illinois. While at Illinois, Middleton helped coach the Illini to 20 wins in 2007-2008. In addition to leading the Orange and Blue to-on-the court success, Middleton also helped sign the No. 3 recruiting class in the country, according to ESPN HoopGurlz, during the fall of 2008. She also played a role in player development working mainly with perimeter players. While working with the Illinois guards Middleton coached Lori Bjork who earned honorable mention All-Big Ten honors and Rebecca Harris who was selected to the Big Ten All-Tournament team.
Before her stint at Illinois, Middleton spent 10 years as an assistant coach at Stanford University, where she handled off-campus recruiting and scouting for head coach Tara VanDerveer. She also played a role in player development, working mainly with the perimeter players.
While at Stanford, she helped the Cardinal to eight Pac-10 conference titles and 10 consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances, including four Sweet Sixteens and three Elite Eights. She also coached three Kodak All-Americans (Candice Wiggins, Nicole Powell and Kristin Folkl), two Pac-10 Players of the Year (Wiggins and Powell), and 11 players that went on to play in the WNBA.
Prior to Stanford, Middleton served as an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator at Eastern Washington University (1994-97) and as an assistant coach the University of South Carolina (1992-94). She has also assisted with USA Basketball National Team Training Camps and served as an assistant coach at USA Basketball Olympic Festival Trials.
Middleton attended and played at the University of South Carolina, where she was a four-year letterwinner from 1988-1991. She was a team captain, team MVP and a two-time All-Metro Conference selection during her career and finished as the fifth-leading scorer in school history with 1,714 points. Middleton is in the books as the best shooter in school history as she still holds school records for career 3FG made (317), career 3FG percentage (44.5), season 3FG made (115) and season 3FG percentage (46.9). Her 115 threes made in 1991 ranks as the sixth-most in NCAA history. In addition to playing in four NCAA Tournaments, which included a Sweet 16 appearance, Middleton was a two-time GTE Academic All-District selection at South Carolina and participated in the 1989 USA Basketball Olympic Festival in Oklahoma City.
Middleton graduated cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education from South Carolina in 1991. She also earned an Interdisciplinary Master of Arts in Physical Education from South Carolina in 1993.
Middleton, who was born in Monroe, N.C., graduated from McBee High School in McBee, SC, where she scored over 2000 points, was the state's player of the year twice (1986 and '87) and had her jersey (#20) retired.