As March Madness is almost here, we take a trip down memory lane and look back at some of the best viral moments in NCAA tournament history. Here is Mid-Major Madness on the renowned Sister Jean:
While 102-year-old nuns might not seem like the typical college basketball demographic, Sister Jean is one of the biggest March Madness icons.
The Loyola-Chicago fan is not only the team’s chaplain. She prays with the team, but also gives scouting reports and even sends players postgame emails about their performance. Sister Jean was inducted into the Loyola Athletics Hall of Fame in 2017.
She became well-known outside of Loyola-Chicago after the No. 11 seed Ramblers’ upset No. 6 seed Miami in the first round of the 2018 NCAA Tournament. Her fame continued to grow as the team continued to advance. Loyola-Chicago hadn’t made a Sweet 16 appearance in 33 years, but that season the Ramblers made it all the way to the Final Four.
Here are some of Sister Jean’s best moments:
She had the Ramblers losing in her bracket
Sister Jean does not miss out on the tradition of filling out brackets. She is loyal to her team, but during the Ramblers’ 2018 Cinderella run she actually had them losing in the Sweet 16 round.
Loyola-Chicago beat the No. 7 seed Nevada Wolf Pack to move on to the Elite Eight, but she didn’t mind seeing her bracket busted.
The “rivalry” with Jalen Rose’s grandmother
Mary Belle Hicks, the then-100-year-old grandmother of former Michigan star and former NBA player Jalen Rose, sent Sister Jean a message when their teams were going to meet in the 2018 Final Four.
“Sister Jean, it’s been a good ride, but it’s over Saturday. Go Blue!” Hicks said on a video posted on Instagram.
The Loyola-Chicago chaplain was asked about it during her Final Four press conference. She stirred the pot as much as a nun would.
“I also heard that she said she’s out to get me, so we’ll see,” Sister Jean said. “Somebody said, ‘Maybe you need a pair of boxing gloves,’ and I said, ‘Well, we’ll see what happens.’ I hope we see each other. I hope we meet there. I love to meet people.”
The two of them did not end up meeting, but it was still a fun little exchange.
Sister Jean seems to get along with everybody. In 2021, she was seen spending quality time with Georgia Tech’s Butler Blue before a first round matchup.
Move over Pitbull, Sister Jean is worldwide too
During a CBS Chicago interview, a reporter told her that she was becoming a national celebrity. Sister Jean corrected her, by saying “international” is more accurate.
CBS2's @MeganMawicke to Sister Jean, 98 years old and @RamblersMBB's biggest fan: “You are becoming a national celebrity.”— CBS Chicago (@cbschicago) March 19, 2018
Sister Jean: "Really, if I could correct you. International. Because they told me I’m appearing in Mexico and in Great Britain." pic.twitter.com/ctTeR25eeg
Tom Brady moment
Nobody could get enough of Sister Jean in 2018. During the Final Four media availability, Sister Jean had her own press conference and packed the house.
“I thought it looked like Tom Brady at the Super Bowl,” said then-Chicago Loyola head coach Porter Moser during his press conference.
While many said Sister Jean was stealing the spotlight from players, it’s important to mention her press conference concluded at the same time the Loyola players’ press conference began. Also, when players were asked about this, they said it was good that she was taking away some pressure from them so they could focus on basketball.
She inspires her team
Sister Jean loves her team and her team loves her. After upsetting Tennessee in the second-round of the 2018 NCAA Tournament, there was a touching moment with players hugging her postgame and Carson Shanks telling her, “That was all you!”
With Loyola Chicago winning its conference tournament, it means we are about to see even more of Sister Jean in the 2022 NCAA tournament.