Nineteen Illinois State Redbirds teams represent Illinois State University in the Division I NCAA. Moreover, almost all of them participate in the Missouri Valley Conference. The exceptions are programs in football, men’s tennis, and women’s gymnastics: the first belongs to the Missouri Valley Football Conference, the second to the Summit League, and the third to the Midwest Independent Conference.
They are united by the common name Redbirds, which hints at the cardinal bird. At first, the sports department was called Cardinals, since red, along with white, was the university’s main color. But the nickname had to be changed so that there would be no associations with St. Louis Cardinals.
Meaning and History
The Illinois State Redbirds logo depicts the same mysterious “Redbird” that is mentioned in the name. Early versions of the red bird began to appear as early as the 1930s. True, these prototypes barely resembled what is used now: they either exactly repeated the emblem of St. Louis Cardinals or looked like realistic illustrations of a cardinal sitting on a branch. Only in the 1980s, the sports department approved a permanent logo, which has been modernized several times since then.
1980 – 1995
At the end of the 20th century, the central place on the emblem was taken by an anthropomorphic red bird, stretching out its hand with a raised thumb. She was the main symbol of the teams until the mid-1990s. To make the image meaningful, the designers added additional elements: a large white ring with black outlines and the inscription “ISU.”
1996 – 2004
The redesign, which took place in 1996, brought several significant changes. First, the artists redrew the bird and removed the hand. Secondly, the full name of the teams appeared in place of the abbreviation. Moreover, the words “ILLINOIS STATE” were depicted in block letters and were located between two red stripes, and “Redbirds” was written in a font imitating calligraphic handwriting and was located at the bottom.
2005 – present
Experimenting with the emblem once again, the designers left the red bird alone. They just moved it a little to the right so that the big red lettering “ILLINOIS STATE” would fit the left with a small white lettering “REDBIRDS” on a black background.
From the evolution of the Illinois State Redbirds logo, you can trace how the cardinal character changed. At first, the bird smiled affably and showed an approving gesture – a raised thumb. Then she became formidable, even fierce, and a red light lit up in her eyes. Also, the artists conveyed aggression with the help of a low-tilted head and tightly clenched teeth. This was to express the spirit of competition, raise the fighting spirit of the university teams, and scare opponents.
Illinois State Redbirds Basketball Logo
The men’s basketball team is best known for having played in fourteen Conference Regular Season Champions, four Conference Tournament Champions, and six NCAA Tournament Appearances. The women were equally active: debuting in 1971, she managed to take part in five NCAA Tournaments, twelve WNITs and won four times in the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament.