Published: Sat, March 24, 2018
Entertaiment | By Simon Arnold

National treasure Sister Jean wants you know she's an worldwide superstar

National treasure Sister Jean wants you know she's an worldwide superstar

Loyola Chicago's Sister Jean has become one of the most talked about fans of the NCAA Tournament. She was understandably heart broken when Loyola-Chicago's Clayton Custer nailed the game winning shot.

Loyola Chicago, the Illinois Catholic school that's advancing through the NCAA tournament as a No. 11 seed, has a famous team chaplain.

Not only did this nation of 334,000 people qualify for the World Cup (whereas the United States, population 325 million, did not), freshman shooting guard Jon Axel Gudmundsson of Grindavik, Iceland, emerged as a college star in Davidson's loss to Kentucky.

Loyola will face either Nevada or Cincinnati in the Sweet 16.

"We couldn't do it - everybody knows her", said Tom Hitcho, the university's longtime senior associate athletic director for operations, who has been pushing Sister Jean's wheelchair during the tournament.

The Sister of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary made the comments in an interview courtside after the win over the Hurricanes.

"Sister Jean is our team chaplain, she's our team comfort blanket, she's our team scout".

"What's is your feedback to the team" on the win, the reporter asked.

As a 6'6" forward, Ingram grabs a respectable 6.5 rebounds a game, but he's got range: "he hit five three-pointers in eight attempts against SIU and went 67-168 on the year for an also respectable 39.9 percent on the season. I'm not some kind of monster.

Just two days earlier on the same court, Loyola won on Donte Ingram's 3-point buzzer-beater to top sixth-seeded Miami. Even in her absence, she continued to send regular e-mails to coach Porter Moser after games, applauding the team's performance (or providing encouragement after losses). "And so was the team of '63".

The nun has been at Loyola-Chicago for more than a half-century and was inducted into their Athletics Hall of Fame previous year.

Cheerleaders wave to her. Students pop in for chats at her office in the student center. May her ruthless spirit be an example to us all. "That was all for you", other players told her. I love these guys.

Actually, let Sister Jean correct that.

Sister Jean is most often decked out in Loyola gear and wearing her trademark maroon Nike tennis shoes with gold laces that have "Sister" stitched onto the heel of her left shoe and "Jean" stitched on the heel of her right shoe.

She's highly valued by the players. Returning to California after entering the convent in Iowa - she joined the order in 1937 when she was 18 - she taught elementary school and volunteered as a coach in public schools in Los Angeles when she was teaching in that city.

The NCAA Tournament has always been about more than just basketball.

Tennessee was supposed to be the bigger and more physical team.

Sister Jean began teaching at Mundelein College in 1961, a school which merged with Loyola in 1991.

Late-arriving fans waiting for crowd favorite Texas Tech in the late game joined the raucous Ramblers supporters wearing maroon-and-gold scarfs and standing nearly the entire game in sections across the court from their team's bench.

She gave the death stare to a monitor showing Loyola squeezing out a victory over her alma mater, Tennessee.

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