103-Year-Old ‘Basketball Nun’ Sister Jean Dolores Schmidt Releases Memoir

Set to debut on Feb. 28, the book will share some of the lessons and wisdom she has accumulated over the course of her long life.

Sister Jean Dolores Schmidt, BVM
Sister Jean Dolores Schmidt, BVM (photo: Harper Horizon & Harper Select)

At 103 years old, Sister Jean Dolores Schmidt of the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary is known by most as simply “Sister Jean” or the “basketball nun.”

With the motto “Worship, Work, Win,” Sister Jean has long been a student favorite at Loyola University Chicago because of her kind nature and enthusiastic love of basketball.

Now, with the help of sportswriter Seth Davis, she’s publishing her memoir, titled Wake Up With Purpose: What I’ve Learned in My First Hundred Years (Harper Select, 2023).

Set to be released on Feb. 28, the memoir will share some of the lessons and wisdom she has accumulated in her 103 years of life. Harper Select calls the memoir “part life story, part philosophy text, and part spiritual guide.”

As chaplain of Loyola’s men’s basketball team, the Ramblers, Sister Jean earned legendary status when her beloved team advanced to the Final Four in 2018.

Sister Jean Dolores-Schmidt at the first round game of the NCAA Tournament in Dallas, TX., on Thursday, March 15, 2018. .  Lukas Keapproth/Loyola University Chicago.

Sister Jean Dolores Schmidt smiles during the first-round game of the NCAA Tournament in Dallas on March 15, 2018. | Lukas Keapproth/Loyola University Chicago.

Born in 1919, Sister Jean says she first felt called by God to be a nun when she was inspired by her third-grade teacher, a Sister of Charity.

In her memoir, she writes that she would pray every day: “Dear God, help me understand what I should do, but please tell me I should become a BVM sister.”

Living through the Great Depression and World War II, she devoted her entire adult life to the ministry of teaching.

In 1994, she was made the Ramblers basketball team chaplain. In her memoir, Sister Jean calls her role as chaplain “the most transformational and transcendent position” of her life.

“Sports are very important because they help develop life skills,” she said, according to The Associated Press. “And during those life skills, you’re also talking about faith and purpose.”

To this day, students and faculty alike are amazed by her energy and devotion to both basketball and her students.

“Her consistency is incredible,” Ramblers senior forward Tom Welch, 22, told the AP. “She does it every day, every game. She brings the same energy to our pregame prayers.”

“Wisdom can be hard to come by these days, but I can think of no one who carries more of it than Sister Jean,” said Matt Baugher of Harper Select.

“I’ve seen so many changes in the last 103 years, but the important things remain the same,” said Sister Jean, speaking of her soon-to-be-released memoir. “I wanted to recount the story of my life for people, not because I feel that I am so special or my life has been so extraordinary, but rather as a way to give people hope and optimism that once they find their purpose, they can go through life with joy and fulfillment.”

The memoir is available for preorder now.