Scouting reports and spiritual advice: how Sister Jean became Loyola basketball’s secret weapon

By: Start TV Staff     Posted: August 9, 2019, 10:44AM

Worship, work, win: that’s Sister Jean’s motto.

Sister Jean Dolores Schmidt was already a local celebrity, but during the Loyola Ramblers’ surprise run in the 2018 NCAA basketball tournament, she became a national star. Television stations and newspaper outlets around the country flocked to the team’s beloved chaplain. Her quick wit and love for the team captured hearts everywhere, while her bobblehead became a best seller.

Sister Jean developed a love for the game when she played basketball as a young girl. Upon graduating high school in 1937, she boarded a train from San Francisco to Dubuque, Iowa to enter the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary convent to become a nun.  She then spent two decades as a teacher in California before being transferred to Chicago to teach at Mundelein College, where she became active in the civil rights movement.

She was hired by Loyola in the early 90’s when the two schools merged, and that’s when the opportunity arose to combine her vocation and her affinity for basketball. While her role as chaplain for the men’s basketball team has changed over the years, she maintains a steady presence at practice and games, offering anything from spiritual guidance and pregame speeches to scouting reports on opponents.

She believes her positive outlook has been the key to long life. She celebrated her 100th birthday in style, with a big party on Loyola’s campus on August 21, 2019.

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