INDIANAPOLIS — NCAA tournament games brought many upsets Sunday, bringing out emotions on all sides in downtown Indianapolis. Fans continue to travel to the Circle City to be part of the tournament action.
One very special fan gets to spend another night in the middle of it all. Sister Jean Dolores Schmidt, chaplain of the Loyola Ramblers, is sticking around to cheer on her team now that they are moving on to the Sweet Sixteen.
“We have a great passion for the game. It’s like the little engine that could that keep puffing along and get relaxed,” said Sister Jean Dolores Schmidt.
Sister Jean is commonly known as the “basketball nun” since her NCAA debut in 2018.
To the Ramblers, she’s not just a 101-year-old pillar of the community. She’s their prayer warrior.
“I said you know that you can win this game. The fans know you can win this game. I know you can win this game. Just do it,” said Sister Jean.
She’s also their booster shot as they head toward the Sweet Sixteen after defeating Illinois and Georgia Tech this weekend. One year after a disrupted tournament and one year after COVID-19.
“I miss seeing the guys all the time…They connect me by telephone because I can’t go down on the field, I can’t go down to the locker room or anything like that,” said Sister Jean.
While COVID has made face-to-face communication challenging, Sister Jean didn’t let that stop her from making an impact on the boys.
“Always an e-mail before the game, a prayer before the game, and an e-mail after the game,” said Sister Jean.
There’s only been a few e-mails this time around. Although she’s not on the sideline, she’s nearby watching from beginning to end. Not only in her heart and in her mind, but in her bracket.
“This time I have them going to the elite 8 hoping we’ll get even closer to the final four,” said Sister Jean.
And of course, it wouldn’t be a true Hoosier welcome without meeting Indianapolis’ local celebrity mascot Butler Blue.
“So we have dog Blue and Sister Jean…I thought wow this is a big bulldog. But he was gentle, so gentle.”
The Ramblers will play Oregon State in the Sweet Sixteen on Saturday.