Sisters Natalie and Danielle Freeman are third-generation Redbirds. Their parents, grandparents, and three uncles are graduates of the University that felt familiar long before the siblings enrolled this fall.

The sisters were ISU fans growing up, following women’s basketball and volleyball teams with such enthusiasm that Redbird Arena felt like home. They knew the University was a special place for their grandparents, who met while living in the residence halls.

Their grandmother, Victoria (Carter) Freeman ’67, M.S. ’82, taught for years in Normal’s Unit 5 school district before serving as an assistant superintendent. Her husband, Greg ’68, M.S. ’72, was a student-athlete and captain of the swim team his senior year. He taught science at District 87’s junior high school in Bloomington. They are retired and living in Normal.

The couple’s two children, David and Matt, attended after serving as Marines. David ’99 is a physician’s assistant residing in Mahomet. Matt ’02 met his future bride, Tracy (Podawiltz) ’88, M.S. ’98, through an arranged date after she had graduated. He pursued construction management work and is employed with Morton Building Inc. Tracy teaches social studies at Normal Community West High School. The two reside in Normal.

Two brothers followed in Tracy’s steps, and all three worked at Avanti’s. Daniel Podawiltz ’92 is a financial advisor residing in Florida. Kirk Podawiltz ’93 is a property manager living in California.

Despite such a legacy, Natalie and Danielle were not pressured to become Redbirds. Natalie chose ISU for her graduate degree in sports management and recreational administration. She works with the Illinois Wesleyan University women’s soccer team while completing her degree. Danielle transferred to ISU to study health promotions. She volunteers as a coach with the girls’ golf and basketball teams at Normal Community West High School.

Much has changed since their grandparents attended more than 50 years ago. What remains is gratitude that runs through the family of Redbirds, all of whom appreciate opportunities they found at Illinois State.