Michigan and Loyola-Chicago are bringing more than their A-game to the Final Four: The Wolverines have “good luck charm” 12-year-old Jude Stamper and the Ramblers have 98-year-old chaplain Sister Jean.
The “Jude vs. Jean” battle ensues, Jude’s dad Nate Stamper posted on Twitter after Michigan stamped its ticket to the Final Four.
NBC 25 News is in on the battle too, as reporter Jeanna Trotman caught up with Jude in L.A. this weekend about his “celebrity life” being recognized with the team.
“I get to be a part of Michigan, and that’s my favorite thing,” Jude told Trotman.
Michigan is riding a 13-game win streak heading into the Final Four, and the team’s 32-7 mark just set the school single-season victory record. Jude predicted “we’d go really far in March Madness” and he was right.
Jude Stamper, a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, has been in the spotlight after being drafted by the Michigan basketball team with Team IMPACT earlier this season, the Deseret News reported. Born with a joint disorder called arthrogryposis multiplex congenita, Jude’s story has continued to inspire fans throughout the season, especially with Michigan’s success in the NCAA Tournament.
Courtney Stamper, Jude's mom, said she saw that support while they were in Los Angeles for the Sweet Sixteen and Elite Eight rounds this past weekend.
“People who know Michigan know Jude and were coming up to him, ‘Jude can we get our picture with you?’" Courtney Stamper said. "There was even a couple guys from Utah who traveled to the game and were like ‘Hey, we’re LDS too!’ and they recognized Jude. We’ve just made friends with people.”
Courtney Stamper said Jude’s humble example has opened up opportunities for conversations with players and fans about her family's faith. Several people have also attributed the Wolverines' run in the Big Dance to Jude being on the team, but Courtney said she and her husband laugh. They are just grateful for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
“Of course it’s all (Michigan’s) hard work and effort day in and day out that’s gotten them to this point,” Courtney said. “But it’s fun for people to say Jude is their ‘good luck charm.’ We just kind of chuckle at that.”
Michigan and Loyola-Chicago face off in San Antonio on Saturday. Courtney Stamper said the communication directors from both schools are working to arrange a meeting between Jude and Sister Jean at the game.