Sister Jean adorably accepts Tennessee legend Candace Parker into Loyola-Chicago bandwagon

24 March 2018, 12:34 | Santos Harmon

Meet Sister Jean, Loyola-Chicago's not-so-secret weapon

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The 98-year-old chaplain for Loyola's men's basketball team is delightfully charming and perhaps good luck for the No. 11 seed Ramblers - who emerged from two nail-biter games to advance to the Sweet 16. She tells us who their best players are and what to watch out for.

They were stopped so frequently by adoring fans on the sidewalk, it was almost impossible to make it more than a few steps before another one approached.

"Of course", Schmidt said when asked if she'll be with the team.

"International celebrity", she quipped to a TV news reporter Sunday. She seems like a great person.

NBC's "Access" interviewed the California native on Monday and called her the "biggest star of the tournament". "To see her get the national spotlight, it's fun". I expect a low scoring battle between two teams that defend the three well.

Hence the optimism is high for Ramblers fans as they approach the region semifinals at Phillips Arena Thursday.

While Loyola might have wished to be seeded No. 8, it's one of two No. 11 seeds to have advanced to the Sweet 16. "I'm letting them enjoy it because it's a mature, close group".

So now Loyola's moving on in their first tournament since 1985.

"Sister Jean is our team chaplain, she's our team comfort blanket, she's our team scout".

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A former player and coach, she knows her basketball and provides comforting words and feedback to players after each game.

According to the Chicago Tribune, Sister Jean was born in 1919 in San Francisco. Sister Jean gave the sports world a taste of the community at Loyola and gave a personality to an organization. Along with the charisma of Sister Jean, the entire program is now recognized on a global scale for their efforts. She broke her hip in late 2017 and now uses a wheelchair.

No. 16 seed University of Maryland, Baltimore County's historic upset of top-seeded Virginia was a first for the men's NCAA Division I men's basketball tournament, but not unprecedented. A nurse accompanied her to St. Louis, and a wellness center employee traveled with her to Dallas.

One hundred and ninety teams were ranked ahead of Loyola Chicago in my Preseason College Basketball Rankings. Nevada just held Cincinnati to 40.9% shooting, and the over is 4-0 in the Ramblers' last four non-conference games. Sister Jean is as active and as sharp as they come.

"I think it's wonderful that they were there", she said. Media once again succeeded in highlighting all that is good with college sports, as they were able to capture the thoughts and opinions of Sister Jean after Friday's shocker. And the students deserve to celebrate. "I mean, just this group is resilient".

Loyola players certainly understand the spirit of the message. As of Monday, more than 2,300 people had signed it. Campus administrators recognize her for her years of selfless service to the community. She also can tell you what the Ramblers' RPI was last season, this season, and that maybe it should cease to be a criteria for evaluating tournament-worthy teams.

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.

And she'll enjoy the Ramblers' ride. She didn't blame Parker for picking her alma mater, and welcomed her to join the Ramblers' cause in the Sweet 16.

"The only thing I can say, glory to God for that one", Custer told the Associated Press.



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