The Loyola-Chicago basketball program became the fourth team to punch its ticket to the 2021 NCAA Tournament on Sunday afternoon. The top-seeded Ramblers held off the Drake Bulldogs for a 75-65 victory, capturing the Missouri Valley Conference crown.
But not every important member of the program could celebrate in person on Sunday. Notably absent, was 101-year-old Sister Jean Dolores-Schmidt.
Sister Jean, who’s long served as the Ramblers’ team chaplain, was unable to head to St. Louis due to COVID-19-related restrictions at “Arch Madness.” The 101-year-old became a celebrity during Loyola’s run to the Final Four in 2019 and has become a recognizable figure in college basketball over the last few years.
Following the team’s win on Sunday, head coach Porter Moser spoke about Sister Jean, saying that he’s certain she’ll want to travel with the team to Indianapolis for the NCAA Tournament. At this point it’s unclear if she’ll be able to, but Moser shared that she’s been calling the team with pregame prayers during the Ramblers’ run at over the past week.
#Loyola coach Porter Moser said he knows Sister Jean will want to be in Indy with the team. Has wanted to be at every game, but has been calling in with pregame prayers.
— Shannon Ryan (@sryantribune) March 7, 2021
According to the Loyola Phoenix, Sister Jean has received both doses of the Moderna vaccine, which is fantastic to hear, whether she can be with the team or not later this month. However, the 101-year old chaplain also spoke about how it’s been difficult to be apart from the Ramblers throughout the regular season.
“I absolutely miss talking to them and being with them and praying with them,” Sister Jean said, via Mary Chappell of The Phoenix. “When I’m with them [in-person before games] and they go off on the court, I do make a sign of the cross on their hands before they go out there. It’s a wonderful tradition, things that we’ve had, and I hope we don’t lose them.”
Loyola-Chicago will roll into March Madness with some momentum after Sunday’s win. The Ramblers were listed as an 8-seed in Joe Lunardi’s latest bracketology update.
If Sister Jean can be with the team in Indianapolis, it’s possible that Loyola could pull off another Cinderella run to the Final Four.