By ANDREW WILLIAMS TOWER staff writer
There are so many major sporting events that happen around the world and in our country which are usually big, especially when it brings everyone together. Every year there are events like the Super Bowl, NBA Finals, and The World Series. But what about the sporting event that has the university’s chaplain as their good luck charm, and paved the road to their first final-four appearance since 1963?
Yes, the Super Bowl can be one that grabs attention to the viewers and those around the world. Fans enjoy picking their favorite teams and hopefully, their teams end up competing for a Championship. It creates a way for fans to also interact with each other by having their own Fantasy Football leagues. There are also the commercials that consumers love, mainly because they are funny and entertaining for the audience to watch.
In regards to the NBA Finals, the teams the past four years have been the same who have competed in it. The best two teams from each conference compete in a best-of-seven game series and the winner gets to take home the wondrous Larry O’Brien trophy. The Golden State Warriors are a favorite to come out of the west and as long as LeBron James is still playing, the Cleveland Cavaliers are a favorite to come out of the east. The question being asked, is it going to change this year with the injury-riddled Warriors and a Cavaliers team that has been inconsistent defensively?
There is not too much to say about the World Series, other than this year, the New York Yankees have their star-studded slugger back in Aaron Judge and acquired Giancarlos Stanton in the off-season. Not that the World Series is not important, it just is not like basketball or football where you have the same teams competing in the championship every year or every other year. This year the MLB is a toss-up for who is going to win, but with teams loading up on talent, especially for hitting, it is going to be a year for the long ball. Yet are any these contests divinely inspired? Sure athletes attribute their success to God, but is it for a greater good of a school and community?
So what about the sport that has their chaplain bringing their university and whole basketball team together? Is this the work of the Lord? The sporting event that not only focuses on upsets, but the miraculous journey that small schools endure during the month of March. Loyola University of Chicago and their men’s basketball team have taken their chaplain as both their sporting coach and their lucky charm. It’s been 55 years since the ramblers have been to the final four, and they return this year with Sister Jean alongside for the ride.
Not only had the Ramblers been an underdog in every game, but Sister Jean didn’t even have them going past the Sweet 16 in her own bracket. Now she is the face of March Madness, and even has merchandise based off of her. Sister Jean bobble heads were announced Friday, and they broke the National Bobble head Hall of Fame sales, becoming their best-selling bobble head ever.
The Wolverines fired back with their own version of a lucky charm for their team. Michigan alum and college basketball standout Jalen Rose’s 100 year-old grandmother had something to say for Sister Jean before the two teams set to face off. In a friendly message, she told Sister Jean that Loyola University and the Ramblers historic run will come to an end Saturday. She quoted, “It’s been a good ride. But it’s over Saturday. Go Big Blue.”
With the Ramblers season coming to an end losing to Michigan in the Final Four, Sister Jean and company are still proud of a heck of a season. They were one game away from being the only 11 seed to reach the national title game, and they busted plenty of brackets.
Talking with some of the students of Bethany College about their brackets and the craziness of this March Madness, we sat down and asked about their thoughts on Sister Jean and Loyola’s historic run.
Senior Nick Metz had this to say; “I think the whole Sister Jean thing has been a cool story for college basketball this year. Everybody always gets caught up into the madness and the brackets, but the way she has fueled a fire into the team and showing her support at every game is special. I never would have thought that a 98 year-old chaplain of a school would be the main headline for college basketball. Then to break a sales record for the National Bobble Head Hall of Fame is even crazier.”
“I think when you look at what the team has done, and then you see that they’ve been using the support and blessings of Sister Jean to propel them to victory, it truly makes for an amazing story. To be the underdog in every single game in the NCAA tournament and reach it to the final four riding the coattail of their university’s chaplain is amazing. This is a story that everyone will remember, especially the players. This is a moment they will never forget, and a memory they’ll have for the rest of their lives,” said Maggie Merren, a college basketball fan and a member of the women’s volleyball team here at Bethany College.
So yes, there are so many sporting events that bring the world together. The Super Bowl and it’s collection of commercials. The NBA Finals and the suspense of a 7-game series. The World Series and the attraction of the long ball. But March Madness, and the story of Sister Jean being such a strong source of inspiration for a successful Ramblers team, will be one for the history books of biblical proportions.