Loyola men’s basketball Chaplain Sister Jean Dolores-Schmidt, BVM, is set to head down to March Madness to see the Ramblers match up in the first round with Georgia Institute of Technology March 19 at Hinkle Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.
She told Phoenix reporters she’s “very grateful.”
The 101-year-old said she petitioned to go to March Madness after not being able to attend the Arch Madness conference tournament in St. Louis due to COVID-19 restrictions.
Sister Jean said she told school administrators she was like the widowed woman in Luke 18:1-8’s Parable of the Unjust Judge.
“I said, ‘I’m not giving up,’” Sister Jean said. “I’m like the old woman in the gospel, going to the judge so many times, and they finally say, give her her way.”
Accompanying her on the trip is Senior Associate Athletic Director Tom Hitcho, two nurses and security personnel, she said. Hitcho is a close friend of Sister Jean’s and was also her guide at March Madness in 2018 during the Ramblers’ Cinderella Run to the Final Four.
“I know she looks forward to it,” Hitcho said. “It’s all she’s been looking forward to, especially since last year and in 2018 when the Ramblers made their run to the Final Four, she was so much a part of it, not only as the university community but the NCAA itself and the country as a whole.”
Sister Jean said she won’t be able to go into the locker room to pray in-person with the team, but she’ll call in to perform the pregame ritual 30 minutes before game time. Despite the limitations due to COVID-19, she said she’s happy to go and be a part of it.
“I really wanted to go badly,” she said. “I also understand that Loyola was worried about safety for me. But the kind of people who go aren’t rowdy people, of course they’re parents, relatives and of course fans from the schools. They’re just really on a big high because their school is there. They’re not out to harm anybody.”
She laughed when she told Phoenix reporters she’d just had her 30th COVID-19 test, and with both doses of the Moderna vaccine, she said she’s “perhaps better prepared than anybody.”