After becoming a star during Loyola-Chicago’s run to the Final Four in 2018, 101-year-old team chaplain Sister Jean Dolores Schmidt will be back on the sidelines to cheer on the Ramblers in person at the 2021 NCAA men’s basketball tournament.
Sister Jean, who is fully vaccinated but did not travel to St. Louis to watch the Ramblers win the Missouri Valley tournament and lock up an NCAA tournament bid, will be allowed to travel to Indianapolis for eighth-seeded Loyola’s first-round game on Friday against Georgia Tech. It will be the first time Sister Jean, who was tested for coronavirus 30 times throughout the year, will be able to watch her Ramblers in person this season.
“I kept saying to people I want to go not because of myself,” she said Tuesday, according to The Associated Press. “I want to go because of the team. I want to be present for them. I want to be present for (coach Porter Moser) and I want to be present for Loyola. I said you have to remember what happened in 2018. It was a little struggle going along the journeyed path, but I finally said to one of our executives, ’You know, I’m just going to sound like the old woman in the Gospel who kept after the judge and after the judge for what she wanted. And finally the judge said, ‘Let her do what she wants.’”
Boasting the nation’s stingiest defense by allowing 55.5 points per game, Loyola-Chicago leaped into the AP Top 25 for the first time since March 1985 and hit the 20-win mark for the fourth season in a row in 2020-21. They’ll be slight favorites against ninth-seeded Georgia Tech at Butler’s Hinkle Fieldhouse before tip-off on Friday.
Obviously, Sister Jean has picked the Ramblers to knock off the Yellow Jackets to open up March Madness, but her bracket does not have Loyola-Chicago going all the way. Though Sister Jean does have the Ramblers beating Georgia Tech, Tennessee and top-seeded Illinois to advance to the Elite Eight, she picked top overall seed Gonzaga to win it all.
“I’m just gonna be so excited when I get there,” she said. “It’s a whole year since I’ve seen them play in a game (in person). I just want to see them. I’ve watched their videos and stuff like that. It’s just gonna be like old home week to me, to see them again.”