Sr Jean is back on the road. Three years ago when Loyola University Chicago created a major surprise by reaching the Final Four of the March Madness national college basketball tournament their 98-year-old team chaplain became something of a cult figure.
Crossing the centenary mark hasn’t halted the San Francisco-born nun’s gallop. Having received two Covid-19 vaccine injections which enabled her to attend the tournament, Sr Jean delivered a team prayer before their second round meeting with number one seeds Illinois in Indianapolis this night last week.
It went like this: “As we play the Fighting Illini, we ask for special help to overcome this team and get a great win. We hope to score early and make our opponents nervous. We have a great opportunity to convert rebounds as this team makes about 50 per cent of its lay-ups and 30 per cent of its three-point shots, Our defence can take care of that.”
Eighth-seeded Loyola were underdogs against Illinois. But they won by 71-58, having taken an early lead and out-rebounded an opposition who made just 45 per cent of their lay-ups and 29 per cent of their three-point shots.
The power of prayer is apparently all the greater when accompanied by some astute tactical analysis.