Loyola-Chicago needed two buzzer beaters to advance to the Sweet 16 of the 2018 NCAA tournament, and some fans would argue it is the prayers of Sister Jean Dolores-Schmidt pushing the Ramblers through the bracket. Sister Jean, Loyola’s 98-year-old chaplain, has become the star of the tournament.
Loyola’s Donte Ingram spoke with ESPN about Sister Jean’s impact on the team.
“It’s amazing,” Ingram explained to ESPN. “I hope I’m like that if I make it to 98. She has so much knowledge, she has so much wisdom. She shines bright. Her spirit is so warm and loving.”
Prior to games, Sister Jean prays for the basics like health, and for the players to play to the best of their abilities before praying for a Loyola victory. Sister Jean explained her typical prayer in an interview with The New York Times.
“We prayed that God would help us,” Sister Jean told The New York Times. “We said we would do our part and make our shots, but we needed God’s assistance. We said we were going into this game with great confidence and that we wanted to win this game so badly. We said we would be careful of our shots, careful not to foul…I asked that when the buzzer went off, we wanted to be sure that we got that big ‘W.’”
Learn more about the most famous chaplain in college basketball.
1. Sister Jean Has Loyola Losing in the Sweet 16 in Her “Realistic Bracket”, But Also Has the Ramblers Making the Title Game in Her “Cinderella Bracket”
Like many hoops fans, Sister Jean filled out a bracket. In fact, she filled out two brackets, and has Loyola losing in the Sweet 16 in her “realistic” bracket. The chaplain allowed herself to dream in her “Cinderella” bracket picking the Ramblers to make the championship game.
“I have Loyola going to the Sweet 16,” Sister Jean told CBS Sports. “But I have a second bracket, which I call the Cinderella dream bracket, where I have them going to the final game.”
Sister Jean revealed her bracket on CBS Sports’ March Madness Confidential, and Virginia busted her bracket like many fans. She had Virginia playing Villanova in the title game.
Sister Jean admits she used to play in bracket pools for money, but that was before she became the team chaplain. Sister Jean does not want any NCAA violations, and now only plays for bragging rights.
“I have to emphasize that [playing for money] was before I became chaplain,” Sister Jean told The Washington Post. “I don’t want to ever get in trouble with the NCAA.”
Sister Jean loves filling out brackets, but is modest about her forecasting abilities.
“I’m not an expert, but I have been doing brackets for years now,” Sister Jean told CBS (via Business Insider). “Sometimes I am really very successful. Sometimes I’m not. I’m not in a pool or anything like that because I am connected with athletics, and that kind of behavior is not permitted by NCAA.”
2. Loyola Players Admit Sister Jean Includes a Scouting Reports in Her Prayers
The players and coaches may do their own preparation for games, but Sister Jean gives her own take on the opponent prior to games. Loyola players admit she often sneaks in a scouting report during prayers. Loyola guard Clayton Custer explained to ESPN what a typical prayer includes.
“The way she prayed just stuck out,” Custer told ESPN. “In the middle of her prayer there’s a scouting report mixed in. She tells us who their best players are and what to watch out for. Sometimes she’ll pray for the referee to make the right calls.”
Prior to Loyola’s thrilling victory over Tennessee, Sister Jean gave The Washington Post her scouting report on the Volunteers.
We watched part of the game yesterday when they played, and so I could see they are very big. They use their height, they use their bodies. So our fellas have to realize that everybody on their team is very good and does their very best. It isn’t just that one fella gets all the points, or two fellas.
So we have to watch our strategy and how we do our defense, and so we’ll talk about that when I pray with them [Saturday], too. But I know the main point I need to remind them, and I know Porter does also, but it always is good to have somebody else say it to them, is that they have to remain focused.
3. Sister Jean Grew Up Playing Basketball & Started Youth Sports Programs
Sister Jean’s playing days may be behind her, but she grew up playing basketball. According to ESPN W, Porter Moser found a folder on his desk after taking over as Loyola head coach in 2011. The folder included Sister Jean’s notes on each player, and what they needed to improve upon.
Sister Jean started as an academic advisor before moving into her current role as chaplain. ESPN detailed her early involvement in sports.
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 advisor before moving to her current role.
4. Sister Jean Has Become the Story of the 2018 NCAA Tournament Earning Praise From the Likes of Barack Obama
During March Madness, there are always a handful of people who emerge as the stars of the tournament. With Loyola’s miraculous success, Sister Jean has become the face of the 2018 NCAA tournament. So much so, that she has earned praise from many people including Barack Obama.
According to The Athletic’s Lauren Comitor, Sister Jean corrected a reporter who called her a national sensation.
“Really, if I can correct you, international,” Sister Jean explained to The Athletic.
5. Sister Jean Is in a Wheel Chair as She Recovers From an Injured Hip
According to The Washington Post, Sister Jean is in a wheel chair as she recovers from a hip injury she sustained in a November 2017 fall. Normally, the chaplain is walking around in her signature maroon-and-yellow Nikes with “Sister” on one heel and “Jean” on the other. ESPN noted Sister Jean does physical therapy twice a week as she recovers.
She is back to traveling with the team, but there was a time when she was not able to. Sister Jean did not let this stop her involvement with the team as she would send Moser regular emails to share with the team. ESPN explained the encouraging emails.
Rarely has she missed a home game until this season, when a hip injury disrupted her attendance. Even in her absence, she continued to send regular e-mails to coach Porter Moser after games, applauding the team’s performance (or providing encouragement after losses). Players say she leaves individualized notes for each of them at the bottom of those emails. The Ramblers say it makes their day, especially the encouragement after tough games.
Source: Heavy Sports