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Underwoods’ house less ‘divided’ after Justin’s promotion at BHS

The Underwoods were a house divided, sort of, during the 2010-11 school year.

Now that Justin Underwood has been promoted to Bearden High School varsity girls basketball head coach, his wife’s navy blue leanings with the Farragut Lady Admirals are being tested.

“It’s definitely weird, cheering for Bearden,” said Justin’s wife, former FHS Lady Admirals star point guard Beth Raby Underwood (Class of 2006) who, as Farragut junior varsity head coach last season, coached against her husband’s Lady Bulldogs JV in two games (1-1 split).

“I’m supportive of him, but I’m not ready or willing to wear maroon yet,” Beth added about the pair, who also were on opposite sides as BHS and FHS varsity assistants season, with Beth’s Lady Ads winning both of those meetings.

Coaching against Justin last season “was pretty weird, seeing him on the other side of the court,” Beth said.

About splitting their head-to-head JV games, Justin said, “They won at their place and we won at our place.”

On a lighter note, Justin added, “As far as keeping the marriage intact that was probably a positive.”

About his promotion after five years as a high school varsity assistant coach, made official Friday, May 27, “Obviously I’m very excited about the opportunity that Dr. [John] Bartlett [principal] and Mr. [Scott] Witt [athletic director] have given me,” Justin said. “I guess from the start of coaching, just the chance to be a head coach somewhere, especially a place like Bearden, is special.”

Justin credits “all three coaches that I’ve had a chance to work for in my five years of being an assistant,” Justin said.

“Obviously Richard Cowan, the girls coach at Bearden; Rick Howard, the girls coach at Heritage, and Tony Hardin, the boys coach at Heritage.

“They all have their own unique style, yet they’ve all been very successful,” he added. “Just a great opportunity to see different deliveries, but also different ways to reach the young people, to see how they’re successful on the basketball court.”

Justin, 29, served under Howard for two seasons, then under Hardin for two before coming to BHS in 2010.

“Dr. Bartlett and I got together and we selected Justin [Thursday, May 26],” said Scott Witt, BHS athletic director.

“I was just really impressed with him, watching him coach and how he handled himself, how he handled the girls and coached them,” Witt added. “I just felt it would be a good fit.”

Justin was among six candidates who applied for the job, Witt said: one from “the Nashville area,” one from Greeneville and four from the Knoxville Metropolitan area.

Justin said he looks forward to “helping teach these kids that basketball is just a great team sport and an opportunity to bond with friends and learn life lessons. … Having been a player, and having such a passion for the game of basketball and what it has done for me.”

Justin grew up in Alpharetta, Ga., and graduated from Milton High School in 2000.

Coming to the Knox County area, “Both of my parents are Tennessee alums, so I went to UT,” said Justin, who earned a master’s degree in special education in 2006 after earning a special ed bachelor’s degree in 2005.

“I just liked it so much I just wanted to stay around,” he said.

A special education teacher at BHS, Justin’s promotion was made official through Knox County Schools Human Resources Friday morning, May 27.

Beth said her “no maroon” declaration doesn’t change despite the fact that she no longer is coaching at FHS. Beth currently is searching for a full-time teaching/coaching position somewhere in Knox County.


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