DALLAS — A religious sister who is the longtime chaplain of
the Loyola University Chicago men’s basketball team credited the pregame
prayer and the players’ solid teamwork for the Ramblers’ thrilling,
last-second 64-62 win over the University of Miami in the NCAA
Tournament on March 15.
“Our team is so great and they don’t care
who makes the points as long as we win the game,” Sister Jean Dolores
Schmidt, 98, told a reporter with truTV.
Donte Ingram scored the
winning 3-point basket at the buzzer in the first-round game in Dallas.
The victory was Loyola’s first NCAA Tournament win since 1985. On Marcy
17, the Ramblers’ defeated the University of Tennessee on a late shot by
Clayton Custer. Loyola was scheduled to play the University of Nevada
on March 22.
Sister Jean said that in the locker room before the
game against Miami, she told the team: “We want to win, we want to get
the big ‘W’ up there’ … and we did.”
The Sister of Charity of the
Blessed Virgin Mary made the comments in an interview courtside after
the win over the Hurricanes. The TV reporter noted that as chaplain, she
always gives detailed feedback after games in emails to Loyola’s
coaches and players.
“What’s your feedback to the team” on the
win, the reporter asked. “Oh, thank God, thank God we did it, because we
knew we would do it,” Sister Jean replied. “And when we were in the
locker room ahead of the game, we just knew we would do this.”
the pregame prayer, “we asked God to help us and I told God that we
would do our part if He would do His part,” she said. “And I (prayed)
the referees would call the right kind of game, that nobody would get
injured, that we’d play with confidence and … we’d win the game, and
then at the end when the buzzer rang, we’d want to be sure the score
said we had the big ‘W.’”
The 1963 Loyola team won the national
championship. When asked what made the 1963 Loyola team special and what
this team has in common with them, Sister Jean said: “They share the
ball, they don’t care. They just share the ball. They have great team
work and they’re really good guys. And so was the team of ‘63.”
Sister Jean has been the team’s chaplain since 1994. In January 2017, she was inducted into Loyola’s sports hall of fame.
the years, she has become a fixture on campus, even getting her own
bobblehead day before a game in appreciation for her service. She keeps
an office in the Student Center where her door is always open, and she
lives in one of the dorms. She broke her hip in late 2017 and now uses a
Her pregame prayer with the team was once
characterized by an ESPN writer as a mix of prayer, scouting report and
motivational speech. She begins each prayer with the phrase “Good and
“I love every one of them,” she said in an
interview last year with the Chicago Catholic, newspaper of the
Archdiocese of Chicago. “I talk about the game to them and then they go
out and play.” In addition to the team, Sister Jean usually leads the
entire crowd in a prayer before tip-off.
Sister Jean is most often
decked out in Loyola gear and wearing her trademark maroon Nike tennis
shoes with gold laces that have “Sister” stitched onto the heel of her
left shoe and “Jean” stitched on the heel of her right shoe.
in San Francisco in 1919, Sister Jean played six-on-six girls’
basketball in high school. Returning to California after entering the
convent in Iowa — she joined the order in 1937 when she was 18 — she
taught elementary school and volunteered as a coach in public schools in
Los Angeles when she was teaching in that city. She coached everything
from girls’ basketball, volleyball and softball to Ping-Pong and the
In 1961, Sister Jean took a teaching job at Mundelein
College, the women’s college that prepared its students to teach, which
was located next to Loyola in Chicago’s Rogers Park neighborhood.
Mundelein merged with Loyola in 1991, and she moved along with it.