CHAMPAIGN (WCIA) — Bret Bielema returned to his team and the practice field on Tuesday in what has been a tough few days for the Illinois football coach. Bielema was back in his hometown of Prophetstown on Sunday and Monday for his mother’s services after Marilyn Bielema passed away last Thursday at 83.
Bielema coached in the game at No. 3 Michigan just two days after Marilyn died, nearly leading the Illini (7-4, 4-4 B1G) to an upset win over the Wolverines before losing 19-17 off a field goal in the final minute. Bielema left for Prophetstown on Sunday, returning to Champaign Monday, adding the support he’s received from friends, family and Illini Nation has been comforting during a difficult time.
“The visitation Sunday night had hundreds of people come through our community and that gave me reprieve to see a lot of old faces and people that meant the world to me,” Bielema said. “And then yesterday the service was just a great day of celebration. I actually spoke, which did my recovery process a lot of good.
“Maybe the word special gets used too much but there’s no other way to describe her, she’s a very giving person, everything was always about other people, it was never about her.”