NORMAL (HOI) - Local football fans were more than excited to get back in the stands and cheer on the Redbirds Saturday.
“Oh my gosh I don’t think I slept last night it is so exciting," said ISU football parent, Lynn Zugenbuehler. "Not only is this the first time we’re going to get to watch him on the field in months, this is his very first game for the Illinois State football team, he’s an incoming freshman. I would have been crying if I wouldn’t have been able to see him in person at his first game.”
It was anything but a normal home opener for the Redbirds as they kicked off their first ever spring season against South Dakota State.
While the set up at Hancock Stadium looked a lot different with masks, social distancing and limited seating, students, parents and other Redbird fans were thrilled enjoy some in person college football.
“Even though it's in a different season, it really feels like we are finally kind of getting that student camaraderie back together and really getting to experience our college life here," said ISU student Madison Crull.
The players were just as excited to get back in action with fans in attendance.
“We haven’t played a game in over 14 months, so to be back on this game day feeling I'm excited, I can't wait.” said ISU football cornerback, Keondre Jackson.
“It just makes it even more fun having the energy and having everyone out here being excited for us," said ISU cornerback, Jeff Bowens. "Happy to be back on the field."
With 20% limited capacity, one parent says he’s grateful he was able to secure tickets to see his son play.
“It’s been a long time coming," said ISU football parent, Andy Zugenbuehler. "It’s been a year and a half since we actually saw him on the field and with all the uncertainties we didn’t know if we were going to be able to see him this year on the field, so it’s huge."