CHAMPAIGN (WCIA) — When COVID-19 forced Brad Underwood into working from home, the Illinois basketball coach found a new office.
“I do Zoom’s while I’m walking, I do all my phone calls,” Underwood said. “I do recruiting calls, I call other coaches, I’ve done a clinic while I walk.”
Underwood’s new way to work has him walking the streets of Champaign-Urbana eight-to-twelve miles per day. He set out looking to lose about 50 pounds and is down more than 30 pounds so far, with another 15 to go. The now fourth year Illini coach started at 268 and is currently at 234, the lightest he’s been since 2006.
“I got a lot of ribbing from my daughters and started showing me some pictures,” he said. “I’ve always been a workout guy but after having a knee replacement two years ago, I got out of that habit. I didn’t like how I was feeling, I wasn’t sleeping as well and just generally didn’t like the way I looked.”
It’s usually not hard to spot Underwood, who almost always sports the orange and blue. And people around town have taken notice.
“I get a lot of honks, a lot of waves,” he said. “I’ve had people jump out of their cars and want to take pictures or do graduation videos. That’s fun, I enjoy that because I love the community, love the people but it is different times. I don’t walk with a mask but I always carry one and if people approach me, I’ll put the mask on as we get ready to converse. It’s really getting to know your community. I’ve walked streets I didn’t even know existed.”
The other plus during the last five months has been family time, something a college coach rarely gets.
“We’ve never gone 30 days where we’ve been together as a family,” Underwood said. “That has been awesome and it is different. We sit down as a family and a lot of nights we’re there an hour. And then we go on our walks throughout the day. That’s become a source of great conversations and to be quite honest, really getting reacquainted with my kids, really getting to know who they are. Having three college age kids, they’re all very different, it’s been fun and challenging but that’s been the silver lining in all of this.”