SAN ANTONIO – A grin crept over Mark Fratto's face as he lowered it to the microphone on Friday morning.
"Sister Jean," the former St. Johns sports information director and current boxing ring announcer, said, "is the building."
Moments later, a crew of Alamodome workers looked like the Army Corps of Engineers when they needed less than a minute to build a wheelchair ramp that led to the podium. And then, in the midst of a cacophony of firing light bulbs and video camera guides battling each other for position, the NCAA's biggest celebrity rolled in.
Unless you've been in a coma for the past two weeks, you know Sister Jean Dolores Schmidt. She is the 98-year-old nun who acts as a chaplain for the Loyola-Chicago basketball team, sending a personal scouting report to each player before each match. She is also a former college administrator who helped Mundelein College through the tumultuous early 1970s. In an oral history she gave of Mundelein in 1998, which now resides in the women's and leadership archives in Loyola-Chicago, she said her mother always said it was "better to wear than rust."
On Good On Friday, the day before their Ramblers compete against Michigan in the national semifinals, Sister Jean did not seem at risk of tempering. She is the inspiration for one of the fastest selling Bobbleheads in Bobblehead history. Her face is adorned with T-shirts and socks throughout the country. And she is just as surprised about it as everyone else.
"I never imagined two or three [cameras] let alone this big group," said Sister Jean on Friday. "Everything just seemed to explode, and I could never tell you how it happens, it's like students go to universities before they're admitted – when they're in high school – I always tell them that something magical You do not know what it is, but you know that you belong there, and when I got nervous when it all happened, I said to myself, "Well, I tell other people that it's magical, and So just go and do it. "And it's a big thrill for me to be here all this morning.
" And you know what? I'm not a little nervous.
How much juice does Sister Jean have at the Final Four? She's the only person here who can go to the camera without first pouring her favorite drink into an NCAA-approved Powerade mug.
But maybe they are Rules for holy water differently.
Sister Jean has accepted her moment since the cameras found her Loyola Chicago striker Donte Ingram's Summer Beater, which picked Miami up in Dallas on March 15. That day she was not surrounded by security in the arena every single second – she even talked a bit about the Ramblers' next opponent – well, as much garbage as a nun can talk. "Be careful, Tennessee," she said, and she was right, Tennessee had especially when it came to guarding Clayton Custer, who fired a late shot to sink the No. 3 volunteers.
Surprisingly, we managed to duck-in for more than two weeks without Milkshake -sch wester Jean to go. What is a milkshake duck? It is when someone shoots to fame and is then hit with a violent backlash shortly thereafter, while everyone screams through the person's past on the internet. The sentence was coined by this tweet which perfectly describes the phenomenon.
But that did not happen to sister Jean, who has steered into sudden glory. Every time she goes to Good Morning America or talks with the Turner / CBS reporter, she spreads the story of the Jesuit school, which has been home since 1991, to a wider audience. It captures the power of today's networked world better than most people in their age. That's amazing, considering that she was born in 1919, when only 35% of homes had a phone. She was a kid when the first long-distance television program took place and came into her 20s before it was common to have a TV at home. It was already in its seventies when most of us started using dial-up services to connect to the Internet. But how did Sister Jean learn that the 100-year-old grandmother of former Michigan star Jalen Rose called her this week? "I saw it on Facebook the other day," she said.
"Someone said, 'Maybe you need a pair of boxing gloves & # 39 ;, and I said:' Well, we'll see what happens. 'I hope we see each other," said Sister Jean , "I hope we meet there and I'm happy to meet people." On Thursday, Rose said that Mary Belle Hicks would not be able to make the trip, so no boxing gloves are needed.
Sister Jean was also asked about the thorny problem to ask God's favor for a particular team in their pregame prayers. "I like praying for both teams so that especially the fans who hear me know that I'm partly on one page, but only partially because at the end of the prayer I always ask God if the scoreboard indicates that the Ramblers are doing that have big W, "she said. "And sometimes the fans of the opponents say, 'We noticed that you paid Loyola a bit more attention than you gave us, and I say,' Well, if you were wearing maroon and gold, you would. '
Michigan trainer John Beilein who attended Wheeling Jesuit University in West Virginia and worked at the Jesuit Schools (Le Moyne and Canisius ) earlier "I will tell you that I have heard from many religious people that I personally know that their prayers do everything in their power to counteract Sister Jean", Beilein joked. "And I had a priest, not even in my own parish, quit after mass on Tuesday and said, 'You have sister Jean, you all prayed for you here. "
Speaking of prayer, a lot of it will take place outside of basketball on one of the holiest weeks of the Judeo-Christian calendar." We have a college mass together on Easter Sunday, "she said." You know that I said Easter Sunday because we hope to stay, and we are confident enough that we will do that. "