Loyola Ramblers head coach Porter Moser joked in an opening statement at his press conference the day before his Final Four matchup against Michigan.
“I feel great, but obviously Sister Jean’s press conference is still going on, thus the open seats,” he said.
And he was correct. Just a few rooms down there was a crowd forming outside of Sister Jean Delores-Schmidt’s press room.
“I can’t believe it, even in the morning I wake up and I say, ‘Is this real or is it a dream?’” Sister Jean said, referring to her sudden rise to stardom throughout the tournament. It seems the deeper the team got into March Madness the more the world seemed to fall in love with her. The world had fallen so in love with her, that if you were to go to any other interview held that day, not one would even reach half the number of people who attended Sister Jean’s.
Despite all the attention surrounding her though, she still has a job to do, and that is to help her Ramblers win it all.
“Obviously she is like another assistant coach to us, giving us scouting reports on player and who to look out for,” said senior guard Donte Ingram. “She prays with us before the game and is emailing us after the games, win or lose.”
“She would pray and then started giving us a scouting report in the middle of it telling us their three best players and what we needed to look out for,” said junior guard Clayton Custer.
“What advice I give today, I can’t tell you what I’m going to tell them… because I’m afraid you’re going to tell Michigan what we’re going to do, and I don’t want that to happen,” Sister Jean teased.
Sister Jean is there to support her team emotionally as well. She will always email every member of the team, individually, after every game to remind them what they did well, what they didn’t and to keep their heads high.
“The most memorable emails I have ever received from her come after games where I didn’t necessarily play well, and she just keeps me positive,” Custer said. “She lifts my spirits and just says we all know what you can do and we all believe in you.”
So naturally the team is happy to see her getting all this attention and support. “She’s such a great person and deserves all the recognition she is getting,” said freshman forward Christian Negron.
The Ramblers and their fans aren’t the only ones happy to see Sister Jean and the Ramblers succeed.
“It’s absolutely terrific,” said Michigan Wolverines head coach John Beilein, who learned and worked at Jesuit schools in the past. “I’ve got a lot of admiration for what they’ve done there, and the Jesuit education was a tremendous influence on my life, St. Ignatius, the whole deal,” Beilein said, “As a result, I admire them, and they have a great program.”
However, Beilein also joked that while the Ramblers have Sister Jean, he has his own group of priests from his own church, who are praying for him.
The teams clashed the day after, and while the Ramblers were unable to claim the victory, Sister Jean undoubtedly managed to raise their spirits afterwards.
“We have a little slogan that we say: Worship, Work and Win,” Sister Jean Said. “And so, you need to do all those things, God always hears but maybe he thinks it’s better for us to do the ‘L’ instead of the ‘W’, and we have to accept that.”