“He drains the three from downtown.” “Lots of points in the paint.” “They are five for five at the line.” “Stuffed him.” “In his hip pocket.” “He gets the roll.” “Kisses the glass.” “Amongst the trees.” “Dialing it up from way deep.”
Ah, the sounds of basketball announcers. Some of you may know what these sayings mean. “Amongst the trees” means that a short guy is surrounded by the way taller guys. You knew that, I’m sure.
I know someone who really knows that. Sister Jean Dolores Schmidt, BVM. Jean has been the chaplain for the Loyola University Ramblers from Chicago since 1994. She prays with the team and scouts the opponents. Jean had her own bobblehead long before the great run of 2018 by the Ramblers. Oh, the great run by the Ramblers? You don’t know? Well, let me tell you!
The Madness Begins
The Loyola Ramblers men’s basketball team began in 1914. Since Jean has been chaplain, they were never regular season champs, conference tournament champs, or invited to the NCAA Men’s Basketball tournament—best known as March Madness. So Jean has experienced many non-winning seasons.
That is—until 2018—when the current team, under Coach Porter Moser (see left), won the regular season of the Missouri Valley Conference and the conference tournament, received an invitation to the NCAA tournament, and made it all the way to the Final Four. Not since 1963 had the Ramblers gone this far in their season.
It was during March Madness that the madness really came to a head for Sister Jean. You could see her at every basketball game wearing the maroon and gold signature scarf. She was pictured in the circle of the “tall trees” praying before the game (see left). She was seen waving her pom-pom during the game. And Sister Jean was seen hugging each player after the game. Can you imagine that? Hugging a bunch of sweaty guys? With a huge smile, no less. That is true devotion and love.
Sister Jean was interviewed by ESPN, CBS, and the Chicago Tribune, just to name a few. She handled it all with style and grace.
Sister Jean Reflects BVM “Team” Values
Sister Jean has always practiced true devotion and love to students, to education, and to God. This is not new. What is new is that so many others got to see this firsthand. The Ramblers are best known for their teamwork and any sports fan knows that you do not succeed without lots of practice.
So what kind of practice has Sister Jean had and who is her team? Sister Jean entered the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary (BVM) in 1937. A great team to say the least! All of her practice was in the field of education, eventually as academic dean of Mundelein College, Chicago, and then dean at Loyola University Chicago.
Most recently, she resides in a residence hall at Loyola to be available to listen to the students. I won’t mention, for the 98th time, Sister Jean’s age, but will tell you she quotes her mother as saying, “Better to wear out than rust out.”
One reaction to all this madness was from Jean’s team. The BVM sisters decided it was time to make up our own basketball team. Sisters who played in high school or Catholic Youth Organization (CYO) teams of old were coming forward to volunteer for the team. BVMs Pat Bombard, Ann DeNicolo, Lou Anglin, Marge Clark and more were ready to lace up the shoes. There were cheerleaders led by our very own Lynn Lester, BVM. We even had BVM Lynn Windsor leading the way in taking care of the logistics, like a scorekeeper.
I’m sure if asked, someone would step up and bring water bottles and orange slices. It got so popular on BVM airwaves that I actually thought we were going to play a game. True madness.
We thank you, Ramblers, for an exciting season. We thank you, Sister Jean, for being who you have always been—a devoted loving educator, always greeting the day with prayer, meeting each person with grace and dignity. We especially thank God that we do not have to play a game of basketball.
About the author: Eileen Fuchs, BVM lives in Dubuque, Iowa and is a BVM Congregational Representative.
This story was featured in:
Summer Salt 2018: Worship, Work, and WIN!
Win or lose, the Loyola University Chicago Ramblers know they can count on the love and support of their 98-years-young chaplain, Sister Jean Dolores Schmidt, BVM. This year’s NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament (a.k.a March Madness) propelled Sister Jean and her team to the Final Four—and gave the world a chance to see BVM values in action. Read more about Sister Jean and the BVM Legacy of Love.
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