In Normal, Illinois we find Illinois’ oldest university: Illinois State University. And let that be the home base of one of our Slamstox athletes! Time to take a look at ISU…

With ‘one of our athletes’ we talk about Felix van Dijk. He left Tilburg for Illinois in the fall of 2019 to play College Golf. A nice next step for this Dutch golf talent, because the USA is ‘the place to be’ for the world’s best golfers!

Felix has been part of the National Dutch team and currently has a world amateur ranking of 1157! In 2018 he finished 9th in Belgium at the international youth championships. Here he played rounds of 75, 69, 70 and 74: with the 9th place he finished for the second time within the top 25.

But there is more: Felix became Dutch champion under 18 in 2015. He also became Dutch champion under 21 in 2017, at the same event he finished in third place in 2018. What a champ!

Why Felix chose to leave for the USA last year? You can read that below:

“The choice to leave to the USA and play College Golf is something I am very happy with. Here I have the opportunity to develop myself best as an athlete, but also as a person. 

Felix van Dijk – Student-Athlete

Want to know more about ISU? Keep reading!

The Campus

ISU was founded 163 (!) years ago as a teacher training school in the USA, this makes ISU the oldest university in Illinois! At the time, the university was known by the name of ‘Illinois State Normal University’. Normal refers to the place where the university is located, which is ‘Normal’ in Illinois.

Normal is a small town in Illinois with about 55,000 inhabitants, so for Felix only a small town compared to Tilburg. The university, with about 20,000 students, is mainly what Normal is known for. But there is more that makes Normal interesting! According to ‘Golf Digest’, the city is in fifth place of the best American cities for Golf! This is based on four different criteria: accessibility to golf facilities, weather, appreciation for golf and the quality of golf. Four beautiful golf courses can be found in Normal. Sounds good Felix!

Compared to other American universities, the ISU campus is quite compact, with several buildings surrounding a central point in the middle of the campus. That central point is ‘The Quad’, an important part of the university. It is used for all kinds of different events. It is a place where many students relax, study and play non-professional sports matches. An image of the important center of the campus is shown below.

In addition to many beautiful school buildings, there are also various beautiful sports facilities on campus. The university’s golf teams, of which Felix is ​​also part, train at the ‘Mounier Golf Training Center’. The golf course is beautiful and is well maintained all year round. See part of the training center below.

Of course there is much more beautiful things to be found on this special campus! Would you like to see more? Check out this video. 


ISU’s sports teams are called the ‘Redbirds’, this name comes from the sign of the state of Illinois, a Cardinal. The teams play in the NCAA Division 1. The American Football team participates in the Missouri Valley Football Conference, (almost) all other teams participate in the Missouri Valley Conference. The university defines a great goal when it comes to student athletes:

“We are committed to academic and athletic excellence as it prepares today’s student-athletes to become tomorrow’s leaders.” – Illinois State University

The current team of student athletes is now divided into 7 men and 9 women teams. Once the redbirds managed to win the national championship, that was by the baseball team in 1969. But in the past 23 years, the Redbirds have managed to win no less than 125 other titles!

Winning competitions, as the university itself states, is not only done by the student athletes. Reggie Redbird, ISU’s mascot, also plays an important role in this! The university also has many fans, the stands turn red and white during the matches. In addition, the fight song below is sung by everyone:

Go you Redbirds on to battle fight for ISU,
Raise the banner Red and White,
To this emblem we’ll be true,
So let us cheer the Redbirds on to victory,
Every voice proclaim, Go State!

We’ve got the fight,
We’ve got the might,
Lets win this game.
I S U Go!

Like almost every other American university, basketball is a popular sport at ISU. To get even more into the ‘Redbird Vibe’ you can watch this video in which you can see an intro of the basketball team!


Studying, the Redbirds do that as well! Originally, the university was established as a teacher training college, but now it offers a wide variety of programs and courses. Courses are offered in the following directions:

  • Applied Science and Technology
  • Arts and Sciences
  • Business
  • Education
  • Fine arts
  • Nursing

Curious about all courses offered? You can find that here. 

Some things never change, because Illinois State remains one of the best universities for teacher training! In addition, it remains the most chosen direction among all students. After ‘education’, ‘Marketing’ and ‘Business Administration’ are also frequently chosen programs at the university.

Academic excellence is important at ISU, which is why every year they keep a close eye on which groups of students achieve what grade average. The student athletes in college show that they are hard workers, both on the sports fields and in the classroom! We have listed the sports teams below and their average GPA is. Not sure what GPA means or entails? Check out this FAQ on our wiki page!

  1. Volleyball – 3.62
  2. Women’s golf – 3.60
  3. Men’s tennis – 3.39
  4. Men’s cross country – 3.38
  5. Baseball – 3.15
  6. Men’s basketball – 2.99
  7. Football – 2.86

Do you want to become a student athlete, just like Felix? Or are you curious about your options? Reach out!