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A Chaplain Talks March Madness


All right. If you want to succeed against the odds, you got to have faith. And this year, the University of Loyola-Chicago's men's basketball is succeeding against the odds. Here's a clip from the TNT network's coverage of their upset win Saturday against the number-three seed Tennessee.


UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Here comes the Player of the Year of the MVC. Rises - oh...


MARTIN: Some say the team's success has something to do with their chaplain. Her name is Sister Jean Dolores-Schmidt. She is 98 years old. When our co-host Noel King talked with Sister Jean, they discussed not only her team's rise to fame but her own.

NOEL KING, BYLINE: You are 98 years old. And all of a sudden, you are in the media spotlight. What is that like?

JEAN DOLORES-SCHMIDT: Well, it seemed to me it all kind of mushroomed at once. And I don't know how it really happened. But everybody loves it, and so do I.

KING: How did you end up as the the chaplain of the Loyola-Chicago men's basketball team? Did you have experience playing or coaching?

DOLORES-SCHMIDT: I was just asked to do that. I've coached girls basketball in - when I taught in the elementary school in Southern California. So they knew I had that experience. Also, I used to go to the games at Loyola because I really love basketball.

KING: And I want to talk about some of the work you do outside because I understand that you actually - you kind of scout the opposition. Do you use that information to help your Ramblers? Do you do any coaching on the side?

DOLORES-SCHMIDT: Yes, I do. I scout the teams, and the coach knows that I do that. So I look at their record to see how they're doing and who stays in how many minutes, how good they are at free throws. So I use that in part of my prayer.

KING: Wait, how do you use your scouting in your prayer? Do you say, hey, you know, help us get around number 22? He's a real (laughter) - he's a real fast one. Like, how does that work?

DOLORES-SCHMIDT: I always start with good and gracious God, we need your help. And sometimes we need it more than ever, and that what's happening to us in the NCAA. We call upon you, God, to be there with us. We'll do our part. We'll run up and down the court to get our baskets. We'll keep away from fouls, and we'll try to make our shots. I also will pray that the referees make their calls fairly for each side.

KING: Tomorrow, your Loyola Ramblers play the Nevada Wolf Pack. I'm guessing that you've probably gone online and scouted the Wolf Pack. What kind of guidance are you giving your players, and how do you think - how do you see this game playing out?

DOLORES-SCHMIDT: I haven't had time yet to do my scouting things for Nevada, but I will check their website today - look at their team to see how well they've done, how their players (unintelligible), how much time they've spent on the court, how many times they've fouled, how many times they rebound. And I put that all together and tell our young men what they should avoid.

KING: Sister Jean Dolores-Schmidt, thank you so much for being with us.

DOLORES-SCHMIDT: Thank you so much. It's been a pleasure.

KING: And good luck.

DOLORES-SCHMIDT: Thank you so much.

(SOUNDBITE OF MARCUS D'S "DISTANT WORLDS") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.