At 97 years young, Sister Jean Dolores Schmidt is a campus-wide celebrity and a living legend at Loyola — she even has her own bobble head. Known as Sister Jean by most students, she walks through campus repping her trademark smile and custom Nikes. And now she stands amongst some of Loyola’s most revered athletes.
Sister Jean is most known for her spirited personality and dedication to Loyola Athletics. She attended her first Loyola basketball game in 1962 and has been a dedicated fan ever since. In the early 1990s, Sister Jean became the chaplain of the men’s basketball team.
Her duties as chaplain of the men’s basketball vary. Before every home game, she leads the crowd in prayer. In most of her prayers, which she writes herself, she asks that the referees make fair calls and that God keep the athletes safe. Ultimately prays that God lets the Ramblers get a win.
Standing at just under 5 feet tall, the nun is dwarfed by most of the basketball players, but everyone listens attentively to her in-depth scouting reports of Loyola’s opponents. After games, she evaluates Loyola’s performance and sends feedback to the players and coaches regarding what they did well and where they need to improve.
Senior guard Milton Doyle said Sister Jean’s energy is contagious.
“There’s so much you could say about Sister Jean. She brings the utmost energy — more than any Rambler fan, more than any Rambler supporter that I’ve ever met,” said Doyle. “She always has high spirits, no matter if it’s a bad loss or a win or no matter what happens. She always sends us an email telling us about the game, and she’s on point like the coaches. I think she just brings a lot to the table and helps us out. She’s a part of the team.”
During the half century she’s spent at Loyola, Sister Jean has accomplished a lot. This past spring, she received an honorary doctorate from College of Arts and Sciences.
On Jan. 21, Sister Jean received another honor — one she never thought she’d be awarded.
The university inducted her into the Athletic Department’s Hall of Fame. Sister Jean, who was the only member of the 2017 Hall of Fame class, became the 173rd member of Loyola’s Hall of Fame list. The list dates back to 1914, when former men’s basketball player Robert Schumann was inducted.
Sister Jean said when the Athletic Director Steve Watson and Senior Director of Operations Dr. Tom Hitcho approached her regarding the honor, she was in shock.
“I said, ‘Oh my gosh, I can’t believe that’s what you’re asking me about!’ So, I was really excited, but I couldn’t tell anyone anything about it,” said Sister Jean. “[I had to keep the secret for] about two months, [which is] pretty hard for me to keep still about anything that long.”
Sister Jean described the induction ceremony as one of the many “surreal moments” she has experienced during her time at Loyola.
At halftime during the Loyola men’s basketball game against Evansville University, the lights dimmed. Sister Jean was escorted to center court by Watson and Loyola President Dr. Jo Ann Rooney. A video played, showing current men’s and women’s basketball players thanking Sister Jean for her dedication and support throughout the years.
After the video, the crowd of more than 3,000 at Gentile Arena erupted and gave Sister Jean a standing ovation, while Watson unveiled her Hall of Fame plaque. After a minute of continuous applause, Sister Jean took the microphone.
She thanked everyone for attending and supporting her. She said that being the men’s basketball chaplain keeps her young.
Overall, Sister Jean said she enjoyed the induction ceremony.
“I appreciate being in the Hall of Fame with all those wonderful athletes, who have brought such honor to Loyola and have influenced so many people,” she said.