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College Basketball

Sister Jean will be ‘jumping around’ if Loyola Chicago reaches Final Four

The Loyola Chicago Ramblers are once again making noise in the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, and their biggest and most popular fan is looking to celebrate in a big way if the upstart squad reaches another Final Four.

Sister Jean Dolores Schmidt, famously known for her inspiring presence during Loyola Chicago’s improbable and remarkable run to the Final Four in the 2018 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, revealed this week that being 101 years old and using a wheelchair won’t prevent her from whooping it up if the Ramblers somehow are able to pull off a repeat.

“I’ll be jumping around, literally, not figuratively, I’ll be jumping around as much as they are,” Sister Jean said during a video conference with reporters Thursday, per ESPN. “It will just be a great thrill if they get to the Final Four again, or even go up a couple steps more. I will hardly believe that it happened. Last time, I thought to myself, ‘I will never see anything like this again.'”

Two more victories in the tourney stand between Loyola and another stunning appearance in a Final Four. A showdown in the Sweet 16 against No. 12 seed Oregon State looms Saturday in the Midwest Region for the No. 8 Ramblers team. Should Loyola Chicago come out victorious, the team would face either No. 2 Houston or No. 11 Syracuse in the Elite Eight with a Final Four berth on the line.

When Sister Jean filled out her own March Madness bracket ahead of the tourney, she picked her Ramblers to reach the Elite Eight, which was a more positive prognostication when compared to 2018, when she had Loyola reaching the Sweet 16.

“When they went on to the Elite Eight, [then-Loyola guard Clayton Custer] said to me, ‘Sister Jean, we broke your bracket,'” she said. “I said, ‘Well, keep breaking it. That’s fine with me.’ This time, I thought I’d have them go to the Elite Eight, and then maybe they’ll push a little harder and maybe we’ll get up to the very top.”

After being cleared to attend the Ramblers’ first-round game in Indianapolis against Georgia Tech, Sister Jean also was in the crowd for the team’s win over Illinois in the second round. The games marked the first time Sister Jean, who also serves as team chaplain, has watched Loyola Chicago in person since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic last year.

Sister Jean’s star turn at this year’s tourney is just as special as when she became March Madness’ biggest superfan back in 2018. So much so, in fact, that the National Bobblehead Hall of Fame and Museum commissioned another run of Sister Jean bobbleheads last week after previous iterations became huge sellers and coveted pieces of college basketball memorabilia.

Set to be available this summer, Sister Jean had input on the bobblehead’s design, including her request that a basketball and her wheelchair was included. A portion of the proceeds from sales of the Sister Jean bobblehead will benefit Sister Jean’s religious order, the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, as well as the Loyola’s athletic department.

For now, though, it’s all about Sister Jean cheering on the Ramblers in what should be a thrilling showdown with Oregon State. Then, with a win, the team will stand only one victory away from making Sister Jean get up and jump around.