Any time anyone lives to be 102 years old, major props and a celebration are in order. When the birthday girl is Sister Jean Dolores Schmidt of Loyola Chicago March Madness fame, an all-out party of an article is basically required. What Jack Nicholson is to the Los Angeles Lakers, and Spike Lee is to the New York Knicks, Sister Jean is to Ramblers basketball—even if we didn’t realize it until March 2018.
Sister Jean’s 102nd birthday took place over the past weekend, and there’s no end in sight for how long this superfan will continue to be at the arena to cheer her team on. It was revealed in March of this year that she was fully vaccinated against COVID-19, and would be able to attend games. She was present for the team’s run in 2021, which ended in the Sweet 16 against Oregon State.
It’s not often that people can say that their run of fame began in their late nineties, but Sister Jean burst on to the scene during Loyola Chicago’s Cinderella run in 2018, where they made it to the Final Four. She was the basketball team’s chaplain during their magical stretch, but brings much more than dogmatic scripture to the table. The well rounded matriarch also chimes in with advice for players and coaches regarding what takes place on the court.
“She still sends me an e-mail after every single game,” men’s basketball coach Porter Moser revealed a few years ago, after stating Sister Jean had scouting reports written up for every player on the roster. Via LUC.edu
“She’s like another coach. It caught me off guard. I thought she was just going to pray. She prayed, but then she starts saying, ‘You’ve got to box out and watch out for 23,’” said former Loyola Chicago player Donte Ingram. Via TheGuardian.com
Loyola Chicago’s matron saint has truly seen and done it all. She’s lived through two pandemics, taught during World War II, and knew from a very young age that a faith based lifestyle was what she wanted out of life.
Sister Jean’s secret for maintaining a zest for life is intertwined with the school and larger community.
“That’s because I love working with these young people. I think that’s what kept my heart young—not my body young—but kept my heart young all these years.” Via LUC.edu