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St. Louis student-athletes score at Illinois State

Kelly Miller on a soccer field

Kelly Miller plays soccer for the Redbirds at Illinois State.

Student-athletes Kylie Meyer and Kelly Miller were the only two people from their St. Louis high school’s graduating class who chose Illinois State for college.

They didn’t know any other students on campus—other than each other—but it didn’t take long before Illinois State felt like home.

“People are so friendly here that it doesn’t really matter if you know someone coming here too,” Miller said. “It’s not too big. It’s not too small. When I go back to St. Louis, it doesn’t like feel like home as much. If I go for two days, I’m already ready to come back to ISU.”

Miller plays soccer for the Redbirds, and Meyer is on the gymnastics team. Both say that Illinois State was the right fit for them because of the size of campus and the Athletics program. Now they’re both taking advantage of exciting academic opportunities off the field and out of the gym.

Illinois State’s compact campus has helped Meyer and Miller manage their busy schedules as student-athletes. One time during her freshman year, Miller overslept until 7:52 a.m. but still managed to make it to class by 8 a.m. because it’s such a short walk from the residence halls to the academic buildings.

“When I came here to visit, I fell in love with it. I knew I could see myself here,” she said.

Illinois State’s close proximity to St. Louis was also a major selling point. As students from a neighboring state, Meyer and Miller were both eligible for the in-state tuition rate.

Kylie Meyer in the gym

Kylie Meyer is on the gymnastics team at Illinois State.

The 160-mile distance also makes it easy for their families to come see them compete. It’s a quick drive, or they can jump on an Amtrak train that takes them from nearby Uptown Normal to St. Louis.

“It’s pretty easy to go home, especially with the train that comes right through here,” Meyer said.

Meyer and Miller are both Presidential Scholars and part of the Honors Program, giving them unique travel, research, and coursework opportunities.

“My COM 110 Honors class (Communication as Critical Inquiry) was really good, because it had a lot of students just like me,” said Meyer, a construction management major. “Everyone was going to really try hard. It was a smaller class and, honestly, that’s a class where I made some friends.”

Miller is majoring in exercise physiology. She looks forward to studying abroad and interning in the exercise physiology labs in the School of Kinesiology and Recreation.

“When you have two great opportunities like Athletics and the Honors Program, I couldn’t really pass it up,” Miller said. “Academically, I felt like I could succeed here.”

Ryan Denham can be reached at