Rambling to the Final Four: Loyola, Sister Jean share the moment together

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SAN ANTONIO, TX - MARCH 30: Sister Jean Dolores Schmidt speaks in a press conference during Practice Day for the 2018 NCAA Men's Final Four at the Alamodome on March 30, 2018 in San Antonio, Texas (Photo by Brett Wilhelm/NCAA Photos via Getty Images)

SAN ANTONIO – In a scene that’s right out of a movie, the room was packed journalists, still photographers, and videographers. From the back of the room on risers to the sides on the floor, all eyes were gazed towards the stage for the sessions’ guest of honor.

Player? Nope. Head coach Porter Moser? Nope.

The engaged audience for this news conference inside the Alamodome was for a 98-year old nun who has become the face of Loyola’s unforseen run to the Final Four. Sister Jean Dolores Schmidt – or Sister Jean for short – was the one holding court in this jammed room of interested reporters and photographers.

“I walked by, I thought it looked like Tom Brady at the Super Bowl,” said Moser of the scene on Friday.

But this scene did spark a bit of a debate on Twitter and others forms of Social Media on Friday. Is too much attention being paid to Sister Jean and not the players that helped the Ramblers reach the National Semifinals for the first time in 55 years.

So the topic was brought up to the players in a few interviews on Friday after their open practice session at the Alamodome. They acknowledge the attention that their now internationally famous team chaplain is getting, but they couldn’t be happier for her, and are actually celebrating her new-found fame.

“She should be. She is an icon now. She’s more famous than us. We walk through the hotel and they stop Sister Jean. They don’t even stop us no more. She’s enjoying it, thought, she’s loving it,” said guard Marques Townes. “Just to see that smile on her face, it just brightens up the room. She’s so happy and it makes us happy that she’s happy.

“She’s just a blessing, anyone that gets to know her, she’s so knowledgeable, she’s so smart and she’s so aware of things. She’s just a really good person at heart.”

Guard Donte Ingram echoed similar sentiments during his time in the main news conference room at the Alamodome.

“She’s meant a lot to this program, to the city of Chicago. Obviously with the prayers that everybody sees she’s been doing for us, she’s around and her aura is so bright,” said Ingram of Sister Jean. “She sends e-mails after the game, generalized and individualized, letting you know what we did well and just to keep it going and instilling that confidence in us.

“Obviously to have her support, it’s great. And she’s like no other. We’re happy to have her on our side.”

Speaking with Shannon Ryan of the Chicago Tribune, Clayton Custer was also quick to express the support of the players have for Sister Jean’s stardom.

So together, they approach the biggest moment in Loyola sports history in over half a century. At 5:09 PM begins the Ramblers’ fifth game of this NCAA Tournament, one step away from playing for a championship.

“She’s enjoying it. She really is. She loves all this attention. She loves our basketball team and she loves basketball in general,” said guard Lucas Williamson. “I hope she’s enjoying it as much as we are.”

That’s a pretty safe assumption at this point.

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