[caption id="attachment_345902" align="alignright" width="451"] Rendering of Sister Jean bobblehead doll.[/caption]
Sister Jean Dolores Schmidt, the 98-year-old chaplain for the Loyola University Chicago's men's basketball team, has become a social media icon and a household name for basketball fans across the nation as the underdog Loyola Ramblers have advanced to the Final Four in the 2018 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament. When Milwaukee-based National Bobblehead Hall of Fame and Museum released designs on March 23 for a limited edition Sister Jean bobblehead and availed it for pre-order, it took only 40 hours to become the Hall of Fame's all-time best selling item and within 48 hours, 5,000 Sister Jean Bobbleheads were sold, according to a news release. By comparison, 3,000 Clemson Football National Championship Bobbleheads, its former best-selling item, sold when it was released last year. In just over 24 hours, Sister Jean bobbleheads were sold to people in all 50 states, Washington D.C. and Canada, and 63 percent of those orders came from outside Illinois. To date, the largest quantity of Sister Jean bobbleheads purchased in one order is 30, according to the release. "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, co-founder and CEO of the National Bobblehead Hall of Fame and Museum said in the release.
At $25 each, the bobblehead doll depicts Sister Jean-- a nun of the Sisters of the Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mother order-- holding a basketball and wearing a black Loyola jacket, and maroon and gold scarf.
“Everyone needs some of Sister Jean’s positive attitude and great spirit in their life, and this bobblehead will be a great way to have that,” Sklar said.
Individually numbered and packaged in a collector's box, the bobblehead is available for pre-order on the Hall of Fame's online store. Orders are expected to ship in June, according to its website. Some of the proceeds from each sale of the bobblehead, which is licensed by Loyola University Chicago, will be donated to the Loyola Athletic Fund and the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
The Hall of Fame has not yet determined an end date for its Sister Jean bobblehead pre-sale, but Sklar said interested customers will be able to order one even after the pre-sale ends.
"Given the excitement for Sister Jean, we will probably order more than the pre-order number so that way, if someone misses the pre-order or wants more bobbleheads, they can still purchase them on our website," he said.
The National Bobblehead Hall of Fame and Museum next month will open a 4,300-square-foot space, located at 170 S. 1st St., to permanently display more than 7,000 bobbleheads. The opening will occur almost four years after co-founders Sklar and Brad Novak first announced the Hall of Fame in November, 2014.