To the surprise of no one who has paid even casual attention to the NCAA tournament, a bobblehead of Sister Jean Dolores Schmidt became the best seller in the history of the National Bobblehead Hall of Fame and Museum within 48 hours of its release.
The 98-year-old nun, who leads the Loyola Chicago men’s basketball team in prayer before each game, is perhaps college basketball’s most recognized new personality in the midst of the Ramblers’ improbable march to the Final Four as a No. 11 seed, a feat accomplished only three previous times.
Loyola will face No. 3 seed Michigan Saturday night in San Antonio for a spot in next Monday’s national championship game.
An 11 seed has never reached the NCAA tournament final, but then, none had the power of Sister Jean behind it.
“Be careful San Antonio, the Ramblers are on their way,” she said after Loyola blasted No. 9 seed Kansas State, 78-62, Saturday night in the South Region final at Philips Arena in Atlanta.
The bobblehead hall of fame issued a release on Monday morning indicating the Sister Jean bobblehead hit 5,000 in sales, easily surpassing the previous record held by a Clemson national championship bobblehead, which sold just under 3,000 units.
According to the hall of fame, it was selling 107 Sister Jean bobbleheads every hour, or 1.7 bobbleheads per minute, with 63 percent of orders from outside of Illinois. Sister Jean bobbleheads have been sold in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Canada, according to the museum.
“Sister Jean and Loyola have been one of those amazing, feel-good March stories, and we’re thrilled to be working with the university so that more fans across the country can have a Sister Jean bobblehead,” Phil Sklar, CEO and co-founder of the National Bobblehead Hall of Fame and Museum, said in a statement. “Everyone needs some of Sister Jean’s positive attitude and a great spirit in their life.”
A portion of the proceeds from the sale of each Sister Jean bobblehead will benefit the Loyola Athletic Fund and the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
The creation of the National Bobblehead Hall of Fame and Museum was announced in November 2014. The museum hosted a preview edition in 2016 in Milwaukee and is planning for a permanent location there expected to open in April.
“We are so excited that people around the country are getting the opportunity to learn what all of us Loyola have known for quite some time,” Ramblers Athletic Director Steve Watson said, “and that is that Sister Jean is an absolute treasure. She is an amazing person and part of the fabric of what makes Loyola such a wonderful place.”