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Sister Jean throws first pitch at Cubs game at 103 years old

Sister Jean throws first pitch at Cubs game at 103 years old
Loyola University’s Sister Jean Dolores Schmidt, 103, threw out the ceremonial first pitch during the Chicago Cubs game on Sept. 27. (Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski/USA TODAY Sports)

CHICAGO (BVM) – Sister Jean Dolores Schmidt is a Chicago sports legend without ever playing in a game. The nun from Loyola University of Chicago gained notoriety during the Ramblershistoric Final Four run during the 2018 NCAA Tournament, becoming the year’s Cinderella story as a No. 11 seed. Sister Jean was with the team the entire way, becoming a cultural icon herself as the then 98-year-old chaplin sat courtside and cheered on the team.

Now the 103-year-old is still in the Chicago sports spotlight. The nun, adorned in her maroon and yellow Loyola colors and a customized No. 103 jersey, threw out the ceremonial first pitch during the Chicago Cubs game at Wrigley Field on Sept. 27 against the Philadelphia Phillies. Continuing to prove she’s Chicago’s good luck charm, the underdog Cubs won the game 2-1 over a team that is trying to make a playoff push.

Sister Jean has had a busy life since the Ramblers’ improbable Final Four run four years ago. In that span she’s made dozens of TV appearances, celebrated her 100th birthday and even had a Chicago train station plaza at the Loyola campus named after her. While many hope for rest and relaxation in retirement, Sister Jean has been doing anything but that.

Of course, Sister Jean is best known for her work with the Loyola men’s basketball team and that is still where her heart is. Her journey with the team began in 1994 when the 75-year-old was adopted as the team’s official chaplin. While she may not have a direct impact on the court during game days, Sister Jean’s presence has led to nearly unprecedented success for the Ramblers program.

Prior to her joining the team in 1994, Loyola hadn’t been to an NCAA Tournament since 1984 and had only participated in five tournaments overall. After her arrival, the team has been in March Madness three times in the past five seasons. During those events, the team has beaten five teams that were seeded higher than them including knocking off No. 1 seed Illinois in the 2021 tournament, No. 3 seed Tennessee in the 2018 tournament and No. 6 seed Miami in the 2018 tournament.

Last season, the Ramblers went an impressive 25-8 on their way to winning the Missouri Valley Conference tournament, earning a spot in the NCAA Tournament in back-to-back seasons for the first time since 1963-64. Unfortunately, 10-seed Loyola was ousted in the opening round of the tournament by 7-seed Ohio State 54-41.

With the college basketball season quickly approaching, Sister Jean will prepare for another year as team chaplin. As the Ramblers take the court for the first time Oct. 30, expect Sister Jean to be there cheering on her favorite team perhaps even to another run through March. It is clear from her recent first pitch with the Cubs that Sister Jean is still Chicago’s lucky charm.