The moral of the story

It sad to say that there will be no miracle team this year for winning a championship as midnight stuck on this Cinderella team, Loyola University Chicago Ramblers. The loss in the Final Four of the men’s NCAA Tournament to the University of Michigan was by 12 points yet there’s still a bright side to recognize after this disappointing result.

For the Ramblers, no matter what challenge they faced, they always had faith, and their inspiration driven by Sister Jean Schmidt who has been part of Loyola Chicago men’s basketball team since 1994.

As chaplain of the men’s basketball team, she always took her job seriously as she goes well and beyond the call of duty. For example she emails the players after games in order to give them tips on their progress.

Before nearly every home game, she would be courtside near where the players would sit to greet them.

From an interview with editor Joyce Duriga of the Chicago Catholic, the newspaper for the Archdiocese of Chicago, Sister Jean expressed her love for the Ramblers.

“I love every one of them (the players),” Schmidt said. “I talk about the game to them, and then they go out and play.”

Another thing she does before the home games is lead a prayer with the team.

“I always pray that we don’t get injured, that we play with great sportsmanship, and that we be respectful toward each other. I think that’s very important,” Schmidt said.

“We pray to win because we’re in competition. When you’re in competition, you want to win,” Schmidt said. “If that’s the way God wants it, it’s fine.”

Their prayers weren’t completely heard as the team lost in the Final Four which was a crushing defeat. They were two wins away from winning the national championship. However, the world should not forget about the story of this underdog team and how they rose into the limelight.

This team received their label as a ‘Cinderella Team’ due to not just winning each round in the NCAA tournament as a 11 seed, but in the manner in which they won.

In the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, during the first round as 64 teams are set to play, hardly anybody expected a little team like the Ramblers to make any kind of run. However until the very end they seemed to have something special up their sleeve that helped them be victorious.

As you examine each of their games, chills would form along your back. In the round of 64 they were down to the University of Miami by 7 points after 14 minutes left in the game. As Miami was looking to gain control of the game, Loyola Chicago rallied back to get themselves in position to win the game.

After a couple of lucky breaks that worked in the Ramblers’ favor, it set up the final possession of the game. Down by one, they pushed the ball up the court looking for a game winning shot, and they got it off the hands of forward Donte Ingram.

As the ball reached his hands he threw up a fearless shot beyond the three point arc and hit nothing but net as the final seconds of the game ticked away. Loyola Chicago was able to come out with a win.

In the second round of the tournament against Tennessee they confidently put themselves in a comfortable lead up seven points with six minutes to go. However, nothing is ever given as Tennessee came trumping back and with 20 seconds left they took the lead.

The Loyola team stayed optimistic as they had to draw up another game winning play, and this shot will not be stopped. As Clayton Cluster awkwardly throws up a wild looking shot as he tumbles to the ground, the world froze as it bounced up and down on the rim of the basket. Then the ball just miraculously falls in and, they survived and advance.

They also survived a late surge by Nevada in the Sweet Sixteen to advance to the Elite Eight. Further, they dominated in that game and advanced to final four.

There is no doubt that there was something magical about that time in the early goings of this year’s tournament.

Even though they did not accomplish the overall goal of winning a championship, they still went a far distance than most believed. Even Sister Jean in her bracket had her team finished by the Sweet Sixteen round.

There was a definite divine intervention with this team, and that’s probably the main reason why they may have gotten so far. What you can take away from this Loyola Chicago team is that definitely having faith can take you farther than you thought was possible.