Loyola-Chicago is the Cinderella of this year’s NCAA men’s basketball tournament. The 11th-seeded Ramblers have taken a dream ride through the bracket and face Michigan in tonight’s semi-final. Right by their side has been 98-year-old nun and team chaplain, Sister Jean Delores Schmidt.
— Sister Jean (@SisterJean98) March 24, 2018
The team’s merchandise sales have gone through the roof, with more Ramblers apparel purchased from last Saturday through Tuesday morning than the entire rest of the season. That might be somewhat normal for an underdog team, as supporters jump on the bandwagon, but this Loyola-Chicago team is unique.
So who’s the unlikely icon behind the spike in merchandise sales? None other than Sister Jean.
“As of Wednesday afternoon, the National Bobblehead Hall of Fame and Museum in Milwaukee had sold more than 10,000 bobbleheads of Schmidt wearing the signature Loyola scarf,” according to the Chicago Tribune.
These Sister Jean figures have more than tripled the sales of next-best-selling bobblehead, made for the Clemson University 2016 NCAA National Champion football team.
But Sister Jean is doing much more than just influencing merchandise sales.
She has been influential to everyone in the Loyola-Chicago community ever since she took a job teaching at Mundelein College, which later merged with Loyola-Chicago, in 1961,
“For decades, she was a constant at the student center or standing at the bus stop in Chicago asking after the students, and never walked past them without a greeting,” Des Moines Register reported.
“She’s really helped change the identity of a sister for a lot of people. Sisters are a part of people’s everyday lives, and there is a genuine relationship between sisters and students and the team,” Sister Margaret Mary Cosgrove told the Register.
Sister Jean becomes calm while in a state of prayer, which has become a major unifying presence for the Loyola-Chicago team, especially in close games.
“It’s more than a prayer that God is on our side and we are going to win,” Sister Mary Ann told the Register. “It’s a prayer that we will be our best selves during the game.”
The Ramblers have a lot of people pulling for them to pull the ultimate upset in the NCAA National Championship this year, but the school has a history in this tournament.
They won the men’s title in 1963, a year in which Sister Jean was just getting started at the school:
Here's what Sister Jean looked like the last time Loyola-Chicago went to the Final Four: pic.twitter.com/74huzc2FEs
— Timothy Burke (@bubbaprog) March 25, 2018
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