Commentary: All Hail Sister Jean


A promotional image for the limited edition “Sister Jean” bobblehead. She is the chaplain for Loyola University Chicago’s men’s basketball team and rose to fame earlier this year after LUC’s unprecedented success. Image source: Loyola Ramblers.

Loyola-Chicago‘s mens basketball team is certainly the Cinderella story of this year’s March Madness Tournament, but the Ramblers couldn’t have made it to the Final Four alone. Their savior: Sister Jean Dolores Schmidt.

Sister Jean, as she’s known around campus, is an 98-year-old nun and easily the best part of this year’s NCAA tournament.

Schmidt serves as LUC’s official chaplain, and she leads prayers before each game. But her duties don’t stop there. Sister Jean also gives a detailed scouting report, and sometimes she even gives Head Coach Porter Moser a few pointers.

She’s only five feet tall, but Sister Jean has become an integral part of the Loyola-Chicago game plan. She certainly looks the part, dressed in a varsity jacket and custom monogrammed sneakers nicknamed “Air Sister Jeans.”

Although she may never actually makes it onto the court, Sister Jean is fan favorite, and cheers of “Sis-ter Jean” are common in LUC’s arenas. In fact, many fans credit Schmidt and her prayers for the team’s unprecedented success in recent weeks.

Sister Jean has become so beloved that there’s even an effort to make her a saint. And yes, there’s grounds for this.

Henry Redman wrote an Op-Ed for Loyola’s newspaper, the Loyola Phoenix, entitled, “An Open Letter to Pope Francis: Please Canonize Sister Jean,” and he sites the basketball team’s huge upsets with last second buzzer beaters over Miami University and the University Tennessee — in the first and second rounds of the NCAA tournament, respectively — as the needed “miracles” to make her one.

I don’t know about you, but she’s got my vote.

Since Redman’s Op-Ed was published, we can add two more miracles to that list. Loyola defeated the University of Nevada 69-68 in the Sweet 16, and yes, with another three-pointer in the final seconds. Just two days later, LUC upset Kansas State University 78-62 in the Elite Eight. I’ll bet that Sister Jean prayed for that one, too.

Like any true superstar, Sister Jean is now forever immortalized as a limited edition commemorative bobblehead.

The self proclaimed international celebrity has quite the fan club as well — even including former president Barack Obama. The famed Chicagoan even gave her a twitter shoutout.

Although March is coming to a close, I certainly hope to see more of Sister Jean. At a time when the news is filled with violent shootings and tense foreign relations, it’s refreshing to see a lovable, endearing figure like Sister Jean. She represents the remaining purity and joy in a game that is so often corrupt.

On Saturday, Mar. 31, the Ramblers will face the University of Michigan in San Antonio, Texas for the Final Four game. The last time Loyola-Chicago reached the semifinals was in 1963; they won the championship that season.