In the first weekend of the March Madness tournament, the most tweeted-about person might not have been a basketball player, but a 98-year-old religious sister.
Sister Jean Dolores-Schmidt, BVM, is the chaplain of the Loyola University Chicago Men’s Basketball team, and the unlikely breakout star of the college tournament.
Sister Jean burst onto the scene when her beloved Ramblers upset the University of Miami in the first round of the tournament with a down-to-the-wire three-point basket.
Following this win, Twitter featured Sister Jean in a Twitter moment, and she received shout outs from high profile accounts including ESPN and former President Barack Obama. The New York Times also ran a profile on her.
Sister Jean leads the team in prayer before each game, and she prays for her players to be safe, for the referees to be fair, and for God’s assistance during the game. She also admitted to praying for the opposing team, but “not as hard.”
Sister Jean provides more than just spiritual support for the team: in 2011, when the Ramblers hired Head Coach Porter Moser, she presented him with a stack of scouting reports for each of his players. She still compiles notes on Loyola-Chicago’s opponents and will warn the team about different players during their pregame huddle. Until she broke her hip this past November, Sister Jean had only missed two home games over the past 23 years--and still followed the team on an iPad while she was recovering from surgery.
The Ramblers proved they weren’t one-and-done when they proceeded to upset the University of Tennessee and move on to the Sweet 16. This is their first time advancing to this round of the tournament since 1985. Sister Jean was thrilled.
Loyola-Chicago will continue its Cinderella run through the tournament on Thursday night, against Nevada.