Six-year-old Schwab making an impact on her ‘teammates’ despite being away


Kim Schwab

UNC Wilmington women’s basketball coach Karen Barefoot, left, with six-year-old Violet Schwab, right, and Sammy C. Hawk.

Austin Chandler, Contributing Writer

UNC Wilmington women’s basketball added a new member to the family this season, the player in question is one with enough toughness and heart to change perspectives in the Seahawk locker room.

The newest Seahawk is six-year-old Violet Schwab, who was added to the roster as an honorary teammate in late September.

Violet was diagnosed last February with optic nerve glioma, a type of brain tumor that affects the nerve connecting the brain and eye and can cause a loss of vision.

While she has been forced to be away from her newfound sisters while she continues her own fight, her impact on the team and presence has not been lost, according to UNCW head coach Karen Barefoot.

Since taking over as the head women’s basketball coach in May, Barefoot has made it clear that while wins and championships are important, so is the community you win them for.

She’s found success at each of the five programs she’s taken over by creating a family within her team and coaching her players to think beyond the game of basketball. Barefoot hoped to build a family when she arrived in Wilmington, and Violet has become the center point of that family.

“She made them appreciate life,” she said of the impact Schwab has had on her players. “They love each other more. I can see the love and joy in the team grow throughout the year because of Violet.”

Violet and her family have only been able to attend one game this season due to school and treatments, but not being physically present with her teammates has not limited the impact that the players and coaches have had on the six-year-old.

While the Seahawks prepare for their final stretch of games, their little sister is preparing for the end of her treatments.

“She is doing very well,” said Schwab’s mother while also adding that the final treatments will present, “tough challenges and side effects” for Violet.

Schwab and her teammates will be in different places facing different challenges, the spirit Schwab has shown in her fight, paired with the love and support from UNCW women’s basketball team, gives both parties the strength to take on anything.