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Letter From ISU Director of Athletics Larry Lyons

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To our fans, donors, corporate partners, alumni, the Illinois State University campus community, and the Bloomington-Normal community at large,

On behalf of our entire athletics department at ISU, thank you. Such a simple sentence means so much after the last week few weeks. So often during the year, sports are an outlet for so many in our community. It gives relief from the stresses of everyday life and allows you, even for a short amount of time, to forget your troubles and cheer on the Redbirds. It gives us an incredible sense of pride to represent this community and try to lift its spirits with our work.

After the unthinkable tragedy earlier this month that claimed the lives of seven great men, we had our spirits lifted by all of you. You reminded us what it means to be from Bloomington-Normal and what it means to be a Redbird. When a community of people who genuinely care about others comes together, pain can be replaced by love and tragedy can be triumphed by happiness. It would be very hard to convey in one email what all the phone calls, texts, emails, and visits meant during such a difficult week. Rather than being consumed by grief, we were enveloped in love and support. It is not something we will ever forget. Thank you for all your kindness, it made a dark time much brighter.

Our department cried together, shared stories and laughed together, put on events, held spring football practice, played baseball and softball, ran track, played golf, played tennis, hosted a press conference, and mourned the loss of our friends. We always say, “We’re in the relationship business.” We go through seasons in this industry. We move from football season, to basketball season, to spring sports and external events, to summer planning for the year ahead, and start it back up again. I think we all came to the realization that every one of those seasons builds our relationships a little bit more. Our fans, our donors, our community members who support ISU, and our corporate partners all genuinely cared about us this month. Those caring relationships are what make Bloomington-Normal and ISU special.

As we move forward, we enter a new chapter in Redbird Athletics; one without seven incredible men, who made Bloomington-Normal and ISU a much better place. There is no way to replace their personalities, their contributions to ISU athletics, or their contributions to Bloomington-Normal. However, this new chapter provides a special opportunity. This is an opportunity to pick up where we were before the events of this past month and continue to be at our best. It’s what our friends would want. It’s what we owe this community.

We will always remember what has happened earlier this month, we will always be proud to call Bloomington-Normal our home, and we will always be proud to be Redbirds. We say it often here, but it is still true: It is a great day to be a Redbird.

Larry Lyons
Director of Athletics