Sister Jean is making her first trip in a year a big one.
Loyola-Chicago’s 101-year-old team chaplain – and America’s favorite nun – has been cleared by the school and the NCAA to attend the men’s basketball tournament in Indianapolis. Loyola, seeded eighth in the Midwest Region, plays Georgia Tech on Friday afternoon. Should Loyola win, it would likely play top-seeded Illinois on Sunday.
“We’re working with Loyola to help support that. That would be fantastic for Loyola, Sister Jean and the tournament to have here in Indianapolis,” Dan Gavitt, the NCAA’s senior vice president of basketball, said Tuesday before Loyola confirmed that Sister Jean had been given the go-ahead. “We will do everything to accommodate her if she can make it to Indianapolis.” Sister Jean Dolores Schmidt became a household name during Loyola’s surprise run to the Final Four in 2018, with fans captivated by the then-nonagenarian’s spunk, vitality and trademark letter jack and maroon-and-gold scarf. Her basketball IQ, too. Sister Jean gave the Ramblers pep talks and scouting reports, and would email coach Porter Moser with her thoughts on how Loyola played or their upcoming opponents. The senior living facility where Sister Jean lives locked down early in the pandemic, so she’s been unable to go to campus or be present for any basketball games this season. But once she was fully vaccinated, she began lobbying to be allowed to accompany Loyola in the postseason.
She promised to abide by any restrictions tournament organizers imposed, including that she not rush the court.
“They said there’s restrictions,” Sister Jean told the Chicago Tribune. “You can’t run down on the court. You can’t talk to the young men. I said, ’I’m not going to run down on the court, and I’m not going to cause any disturbance.’ I said, ‘I won’t do things I’m not supposed to.’ ”
As eager as Sister Jean has been to rejoin the Ramblers, they have been equally anxious to have her back. When Loyola cut down the nets after winning the Missouri Valley Conference tournament, center Cameron Krutwig made sure to snip a piece for Sister Jean.