Bracket busted? Who cares? Sister Jean is the real star of the tournament.
Over the weekend basketball fans across the country got a taste of why they call the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament “March Madness.” For the first time in NCAA history, a number 16 seed knocked off a number 1 seed when the UMBC Retrievers squashed Virginia’s trophy dreams (and busted millions of brackets.) And Syracuse, one of the teams that had to play their way in, beat Michigan State—a favorite to win the championship! It has been a wild and crazy contest so far.
And while it’s highly likely that your bracket is in shambles, and yes it’s true, there are only a few Southern teams left in the fight, it’s clear that the real star of the show isn’t an athlete at all. It’s 98 years young, Sister Jean, team chaplain and secret weapon for Loyola Chicago.
Regardless of conference or team allegiance, the spirited nun is winning hearts from coast to coast.
Her full name is Sister Jean Delores-Schmidt and she’s served as team chaplain for the Ramblers since 1994. But the life-long hoops fan’s connection to the sport goes back much further than that. Sister Jean played basketball for her San Francisco high school in the 1930s. With her on court experience, it comes as no surprise that her pre-game prayers also come with some serious technical analysis.
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"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. And at the end, she'll literally pray that we come out on top," player Clayton Custer told ESPN.
While the team may be the tournament’s Cinderella story, it’s Sister Jean sitting on the sidelines of every game in her maroon and gold scarf that is stealing the show. And Sister Jean is soaking up every minute of her team’s unexpected success.
As she told ESPN, “It just means so much. I didn’t expect to see this happen in my lifetime.”
Whether it’s her direct line to the man upstairs leading the Ramblers to victory or not, we think it best to not root against Sister Jean!