CHICAGO (CBS) — The Loyola Ramblers and Michigan Wolverines are getting ready for their Final Four matchup on Saturday, and the biggest — if most polite — trash talk might be coming from two elderly ladies.
At age 98, Sister Jean Dolores Schmidt certainly has proved to be the Ramblers’ most popular booster, but she’s not the only elderly basketball fan making headlines ahead of the Final Four.
Earlier this week, former Wolverines star Jalen Rose posted a video on Instagram of his 100-year-old grandmother saying, “Grammie has a Final Four message for Sister Jean!!”
“Sister Jean, it’s been a good ride. But it’s over Saturday. Go Blue!” Rose’s grandmother said.
Sister Jean fired back in polite fashion on Friday.
“I saw her on Facebook the other day, and I also heard that she said she’s out to get me. So we’ll see. Somebody said maybe you need a pair of boxing gloves, and I said ‘We’ll see what happens,’” she said. “We’ll probably see each other. I hope we see each other, we meet there. I love to meet people,” she said.
Schmidt might just be the biggest star of the Final Four, flashing a beaming smile as she spoke to a room packed to the gills with reporters on Friday in San Antonio for 15 minutes.
“I could stay for an hour,” she said. “This is the most fun I’ve had in my life. It is. It’s just so much fun for me to be here, and I almost didn’t get here, but I fought hard enough to do that, because I wanted to be with the guys.”
She said the sudden national fame has been “overwhelming,” especially seeing her face practically everywhere, from socks to cardboard cutouts, and even a new Sister Jean bobblehead that quickly became the best seller for the National Bobblehead Hall of Fame and Museum, with more than 10,000 sold in five days so far.
“I think the company could retire when they’re finished making my bobblehead,” she joked.
Despite the fame, Schmidt said she’s doing her best to stay humble.
“I think to myself, who am I? Don’t let it go to your head. I haven’t done that, nor has the team. The team, those young men are very humble. They keep saying how confident they are, and I say ‘Oh, I’m really glad to hear that. I’m probably more nervous in the game than you are,’” she said.
It’s no surprise the Ramblers’ team chaplain is praying for a Loyola victory on Saturday, but Schmidt said she’s praying for the Wolverines, too.
“I like to pray for both teams, so that especially the fans who might hear me know that I’m partly on one side, but only partly, because at the end of the prayer, I always ask God to be sure that the scoreboard indicates that the Ramblers have the big W,” she said.
So does Sister Jean think God is a basketball fan?
“He probably is, and he’s probably a basketball fan more of the NCAA than the NBA,” “I say that because these young people are playing with their hearts, and not for any financial assistance.”