Illinois State Women’s Basketball Making an Impact off the Court
Written by Blake Hornstein on April 15, 2021
Image courtesy of goredbirds.com
NORMAL Ill.- Redbird Women’s Basketball had it’s best season since 2013 and had much to be proud of. Playing through a pandemic and maintaining continuity, along with success is no easy challenge. This group of Redbirds had as much success off the court as they did on it.
Here are just a few Redbirds who made an impact this season.
Mary Crompton, Sophomore:
Mary Crompton had a terrific redshirt sophomore season. The Iowa City, Iowa native shot 46.7% from deep which ranked third in the country. That propelled her to winning the Missouri Valley Conference’s Most Improved Player award, but maybe Crompton’s most impressive work this year came in the classroom. She had a perfect 4.0 grade point average. Crompton was also recognized as a Bone scholar, which is Illinois State’s most prestigious undergrad honor. She was also one of two Redbirds to make the 2021 MVC Scholar-Athlete Teams. Crompton looks to become a doctor and has helped with testing ISU’s athletes for COVID-19. When she wasn’t splashing threes for the Redbirds, she was making a difference in her Illinois State community.
Paige Saylor, Senior:
Paige Saylor has been the heartbeat of the Redbirds for the last few seasons as the starting point guard and leader. She started every game this season and led the squad in minutes. She also assists as coach Gillespie’s first four year player. But the two time MVC all-defensive team selection was also getting it done as a student. Saylor received MVC Scholar-Athlete honorable mention in part due to her 3.9 GPA. After she gets her degree in physiology, neuroscience and behavior, Saylor plans to attend graduate school and become a physician’s assistant.
Kayel Newland, Junior:
During the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic Kayel Newland decided to spend time last summer volunteering at blood drives for the American Red Cross in Kansas City, Missouri. The Junior hopes to become a physician’s assistant and with there being a critical blood shortage it was a perfect opportunity for her to gain some experience and help save lives. Her responsibilities included gathering patients information, taking their temperatures, and preparing them for nurse visitations. Newland was also a key bench player for the Redbirds this past season. On February 20th she played a key part in helping the Redbirds down the Drake Bulldogs on senior day, cashing in three triples, dishing three assists, and collecting a pair of steals.
JuJu Redmond, Senior:
Redmond was one of three ISU Women’s Basketball Players to receive a scholarship from the Weisbecker Scholarship fund. She has also been one of the most vocal Redbird athletes speaking out against social injustices. The senior frequently spoke about the meaning of “Black Lives Matter” this season and has advocated for change on social media. The 2021 All-MVC first team nominee played her best basketball this past season. She had her career high 23 points in a playoff game against Loyola in the MVC quarterfinal and finished 8th in the conference in points per game.
Redbird Athletics/Illinois State Women’s Basketball:
The Illinois State Women’s Basketball program and Illinois State Athletics have contributed to the community in more ways than one. Illinois State Athletics hosted its first ever pride night on January 24th, 2020. Redbird Basketball has also facilitated donations to the Children’s hospital of Illinois and Kay Yow Fund this season. The team also wrapped gifts for underprivileged families among other charitable contributions this past holiday season. The program used it’s platform to express commitment to becoming informed voters, promoting rallies focused on racial justice, serving underrepresented populations, and educating others on systemic racism.