Sister Jean Dolores Schmidt might be 101 years old but she didn’t let her age — or a global pandemic — stop her from supporting her beloved Loyola University Chicago basketball team during March Madness.
The centenarian was allowed to travel to Indianapolis to watch her team successfully take on the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets. On Friday night, a sweet photo shared by Loyola's men's basketball team went viral celebrating Sister Jean posing with host school Butler University's mascot, a bulldog.
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"The @marchmadness content we've all been waiting for," the team wrote, with a heart eyes emoji for good measure.
Sister Jean, as she is known, has long been the face of the Loyola Ramblers. Initially an employee of Mundelein College starting in 1961, she began working for Loyola when the two schools merged in 1991, according to the university's website. She had planned to retire in 1994 but she was called on by the school to help “student athletes keep up their grades so they could maintain their eligibility to play.”
The university site says she eventually became the official team chaplain for the men’s basketball team, and in 2017, Coach Porter Moser told the Peoria Journal Star that he still got a scouting report after every game.
She became a national household name for the team in 2018 when the team made a Cinderella run to the national semifinals, before falling to University of Michigan's Wolverines. It was the farthest the team had made in the Big Dance since 1963. At the sideline, serving as the team’s good luck charm, Sister Jean attracted national media attention and won over hearts everywhere with her enthusiasm.
She hasn’t been able to attend any games since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, but Sister Jean is fully vaccinated and didn’t have any direct in-person contact with the team, ESPN reported. The outlet said she also was provided with a nurse, security and meal service at the Loyola team's Indianapolis hotel.
Loyola defeated Georgia Tech with a a 71-60 victory and will face off against No. 1 ranked University of Illinois on Sunday in a historic Illinois state showdown.
When she was interviewed for her 100th birthday, Sister Jean told the school that she thought working with young people had helped her stay healthy all these years.
“That's because I love working with these young people,” she said. “I think that's what kept my heart young — not my body young — but kept my heart young all these years.”