SAN ANTONIO – The Alamodome has become a house of saints, and a 98-year-old nun already appears to have won the NCAA tournament.
Probably the biggest media event in America took place on Friday instead of morning in Alamodome: Press Conference of Sister Jean Dolores-Schmidt. In the bowels of the Dome, in Media Room # 3, the Loyola Chicago Team chaplain held court for nearly 20 minutes asking questions about the Final Four, her beliefs, and her thoughts about the spectacle she has become.
The press conference of Sister Jean was packed. More than 50 television cameras and 1
At one point, Loyola-Chicago was Senior Clayton Custer in a golf cart, slowing down the media room. He started to laugh when he realized that the room was packed for Sister Jean.
Inside, she took everything with her and tried to put into words how amazing it all was.
"That's the biggest fun I've had in my life," said Sister Jean.
Imagine coming to 98 to say and experience something like this. Sister Jean has become global. She has been the team manager for Loyola-Chicago for decades, but the Ramblers who move to the Final Four – where they meet Michigan on Saturday – have produced a story we've never seen before in the sport.
She also turns to an additional comment. She was asked if God was a basketball fan. She used the question to trudge over the pros for college hoops.
"He probably is," she said. "And he's probably more a basketball fan of the NCAA than the NBA."
She gave all those present a life council.
"You are great people," she said. "Do not let anyone down at any time."
In this year of college basketball FBI cloud, the NCAA could not ask for a better antidote than to take a glamorous, non-royal clerical woman and take one of the biggest sporting events. This is a special Final Four, not only because of Loyola-Chicago's involvement, but also because of its international attention.
The sport and, yes, the NCAA got a PR gift with this happy nun in a wheelchair. It's easy to find room for cynicism in the face of the horde of sister Jean's story, but it's hard to justify dismissing the woman herself. And in the midst of all the madness of sister Jean, it's important to remember that this does not happen if Porter Mosers Ramblers does not win four games and make history.
This tournament has a surreal – if not divine – feel.