The Redbird volleyball players have needed something for a long time – their own locker room. And one family is making a gift that will finally enable them to gather in their own space.
The team has shared a locker room with the women’s basketball players, but that’s about to change with the Jami Kehl Head Volleyball Locker Room.
Darrell ’64 and Karen Kehl named the project for their daughter, Jami, who played and coached volleyball in high school and came to Illinois State to earn a second degree in 1997.
Senior volleyball player Hailey Kelley said the team spends a lot of time in the locker room, whether it’s mentally preparing for a game, watching film, celebrating a win, or recovering from a tough loss.
“A lot of relationships are born in that locker room,” she said. “A lot of emotions are expressed in that locker room. There are some serious, intense times in there. Knowing others are dreaming big for us will hopefully encourage us to go into another season dreaming big.”
The Kehls thought the locker room project would be a way to recognize the Redbirds and honor their daughter’s love of the game.
“We’re proud of our daughter, Jami, her husband, Greg, and our granddaughters Falyn and Avery,” Darrell said.
And Illinois State’s values mirror those of his family.
“We were taught by our parents to share our good luck in life. We’ve been a little bit lucky and it was just a match. We’ve stayed close to ISU because it hasn’t lost its values or principles. They believe in student athletes and that aligns with the values we have. I respect what they’re trying to do with the athletic program, but more I respect what ISU wants to be as a university and academics come first.”
When the volleyball season began this fall, the Kehls were in the stands. And when the locker room is finished, they’ll walk through the narrow hallways in the lower level of the Arena to see what their gift made possible.
“ISU volleyball is a great tradition,” Darrell Kehl said. “It has a great future and it’s fun to be part of that.”