She’s 98 years old.
And this spunky nun has become the face of college basketball, as The Guardian put it: “And the sport is probably all the better for it.”
Sister Jean Dolores-Schmidt is chaplain for the Loyola University Chicago Ramblers, a team that has now made it into the Final Four of the NCAA Tournament against all odds by beating Kansas State, 78-62, on Saturday.
That followed the team’s upset victory over Miami last Thursday — and other dramatic wins early on.
Were there miracles at work? Divine intervention? God only knows!
As fans are well aware, just about anything can happen during college basketball’s end-of-the-season spectacular — otherwise known as March Madness — and it’s why millions of American sports fans remain glued to their TVs and screens for much of this month.
But here’s how The Guardian described a spunky woman of faith — who’s been providing a feel-good element during these past few weeks of the tournament:
Dolores-Schmidt, who has fond memories of celebrating Loyola’s last championship win in 1963, was a cult figure in Chicago sports even before she became the team’s chaplain in 1994. But she’s no mere mascot and she offers more than just thoughts and prayers. The former player and coach provides scouting reports, pregame speeches and postgame analysis by email, along with more spiritual guidance.
Not to be outdone, here’s how ESPN encapsulated her life story:
A basketball player in her youth, Sister Jean was part of the sport at a time when the court was divided into separate sections for women, with players restricted to specific roles. She later became a nun, then a grade school teacher and started girls sports programs. She is best known, however, for her relationship with the Ramblers. From 1961 to 1990, she taught at Mundelein College, an all-women’s Catholic school that neighbored Loyola. After the two schools merged in 1991, she joined Loyola as an academic adviser before moving to her current role. She prays for the players, their health, for the referees to call a fair game and, of course, a Ramblers victory.
Her team was the number 11 seed. Few predicted they’d get this far — but now momentum is strongly in their favor.
And Sister Jean (who lives in an all-girls dorm on campus) just gave her blessing for the team to use her likeness in merchandising and advertising. Game on!
“Licensing royalties for Sister Jean product, except for the bobblehead, are set up to support the Loyola Athletic Fund, which supports the funding of the program’s athletes,” as ESPN noted. “The bobblehead [yes, there’s a Sister Jean bobblehead] splits the proceeds between the school’s fund and Sister Jean’s Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary.”
Recently she corrected an interviewer who called her a “national celebrity.”
The nun told an interviewer that her team should “keep calm and just put into play everything that their coaches have taught them to do.” She also said that “God would be on our side.” And that “we just go one game at a time.”
But this lady of the cross is no shrinking violent. Recently she corrected an interviewer who called her a “national celebrity.”
See below to know exactly what we mean!
And for more information about her bobbleheads — they’re made by the Milwaukee-based National Bobblehead Hall of Fame (yes, there is such a thing). And they’re selling like hotcakes.
And there’s this gem from Fox News: “The sister’s popularity on the [Loyola Chicago] campus is nothing new. The school made her an official bobblehead seven years ago. It’s currently sold out but more are on the way. The school newspaper also wrote an op-ed titled ‘An Open Letter To Pope Francis: Please Make Sister Jean a Saint.’ The piece described how she performed the two miracles required for sainthood, during the first two games of the tournament.”
(photo credit, homepage and article images: YouTube)