Originally Published: April 9, 2018 6:04 a.m.
Oh, Loyola, how we prayed that you might win!
But bravo to the basketball team from Chicago that had an incredible, thrilling, fantastic journey all the way to the Final Four!
When a team ranks 46 and makes it to that sacred level of playing, that was almost more than we Americans could handle.
Okay, so perhaps you were rooting for another team. Maybe your brackets got busted, but what a show we had, an amazing underdog story. . . . . with a 98-year old nun thrown into the mix!
Who says prayer is no longer in schools?
Every kid who has taken a math test or tries out for a team knows how to pray. And Sister Jean Dolores Schmidt showed us that praying for your team, sitting by the sidelines with rosary beads and asking God to shine a light on a few young men, is a good thing. Perhaps it was a touching reminder that there is nothing “too small” to ask for when it comes to the Almighty. And Sister Jean has become the biggest selling bobblehead in the history of bobbleheads! A chaplain and honorary assistant coach for her beloved team, she is a star in her own right. A nun with a mission, giving encouragement and spiritual guidance to young athletes who broke through a 33-year championship drought.
Maybe the reason people love sports so much is because it transports us to another world. Yes, the planet has troubles. There might be plenty to worry about. But then we watch sports and are suddenly able to witness greatness . . . .and sometimes even miracles.
How can anyone explain how Ester Ledecka, of the Czech, Republic won the Olympic downhill super-G gold medal when this was unthinkable, ridiculous and shocking? She sped down a mountain, beating the favorites, shocking the world! She is a snowboarder who borrowed skis and had the run of her life, stunning an impressive field of top athletes. The announcer at The Games was in such disbelief, he couldn’t even speak.
Baseball season begins. Go watch a game at Chase Field and soak in the hoopla of a live organ player, delicious hot dogs, cold beer and the players that throw, hit, run and catch in ways that seem impossible. Speedballs at 95 miles per hour, batters connecting with the thwack of a broken bat, fly balls caught on the run, sliding and stealing bases; it’s all there for us to soak up and admire. Sports can lift us up, show us glory, make us cheer and let us appreciate the efforts of devoted athletes who believe.
Getting back to prayer, Sister Jean was there to comfort her team as they felt the sting of a heartbreaking loss and knew their Cinderella story had ended. Tears, grief and despair engulfed the young players. Sister Jean helped them feel pride in their great achievements and hope for another chance next year.
As she said softly to her team, “Your lives will never be the same. You have shown courage, skill and resolve beyond our wildest dreams. You are winners.” Amen, Sister.
Judy Bluhm is a writer and a local Realtor. Have a story or a comment? Email Judy at firstname.lastname@example.org.