Famous Loyola alums have team’s back

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Fans cheer as the Loyola Ramblers enter. | Tyler LaRiviere/Sun-Times

Ramble on!

It’s the sentiment shared by several notable alumni who have the back of Loyola’s Final Four bound basketball team.

The team takes the court against Michigan Saturday at 5:09 p.m. in San Antonio and the following boldface names will be sending good vibrations, shouting at television sets and possibly throwing popcorn.

Bob Newhart, actor/comedian

Newhart’s wife, Virginia, answered the phone at their California home and said her husband couldn’t chat at the moment.

“But Bob’s just in love with this team and can’t wait to see the game,” she said, adding that his Final Four viewing plans were up in the air.

Tom Dart, Cook County Sheriff

“I’ve been so anxious I’ve had a hard time watching some of these games,” said Dart, who’ll watch the Final Four game at his Beverly neighborhood home.

I thought, ‘If we could just win one game, it would be huge.’ To get this far, it’s just unreal.

“I’m well known for wearing my pullover instead of suits to press conferences and I have my Loyola pullover,” said Dart, who added that going to Loyola is like joining a family.


Michigan’s Charles Matthews, St. Rita alum, ‘ecstatic’ to be facing Loyola

Drake and Russell Westbrook join Loyola bandwagon, tell Ramblers to ‘win it’

Loyola has taken fun, talent and us all the way to the Final Four

Callista Gould, etiquette instructor

Regarding the intersection of good manners and Final Four hysteria: “All etiquette bets are off,” said Gould, founder of the Culture and Manners Institute in West Des Moines, Iowa.

“For some things you get so excited you suspend the etiquette. You have my permission to jump up and down on the couch,” she joked.

“I may have thrown my popcorn,” she said of the team’s last-second theatrics.

Her assessment of team’s etiquette: exemplary.

“How all the players walk up and give Sr. Jean a hug. It shows respect for the elderly. It’s an awwww moment and I was just blown away by that. The visual is very powerful,” she said.

“It’s very easy for famous people to get a big head — and they’re celebs right now — and it seems like they’re holding it all together and keeping in perspective. And I think that has a lot to do with the coach. And it makes me proud to be a Loyola alum.”

On a side note, Gould, who’s given etiquette chats to several collegiate sports teams, said the most common question she fields from football players is, “What if the person next to me doesn’t eat all of theirs?”

She shakes her head.

Anita Alvarez, former Cook County State’s Attorney

“I can’t get enough,” said Alvarez, who would have a hard time counting the times she said, “Oh my God!” while spectating recently. After Loyola’s first-round buzzer beater Alvarez found herself glued to her computer. “I just kept watching the replay online,” she said.

“It’s so exciting for the university. It never was known really for the athletics and for them to be where they are is just tremendous. It’s such a boost and bringing great attention on the national level.”

“It’s a group of guys who just don’t quit and play as a team. There’s no one big superstar.”

LaRue Martin, Community Services Manager at UPS and former NBA player

“I’d love to be in San Antonio, but I’m seven feet tall,” Martin said. “The world wasn’t made for people this tall. So I have to fly first class or get an exit row seat and the prices are just crazy.”

Martin, a sensational college ball player at Loyola, was the number one overall draft pick out of college.

“I’ve got friends of mine telling me to watch it here and there. I’d like to clone myself,” Martin joked. “I may have to go down to the campus and watch with the students.”

“I’ve been jumping out of my seat and holding my heart with this team,” he said.

On a side note, when Martin started with UPS as a driver, the company had parts of two pairs of pants sewn together to fit the former center.

Ruben Castillo, Chief Judge at Chicago’s Federal Courthouse

“I’m overwhelmed with pride,” said Castillo, who keeps several items of Loyola paraphernalia in his chambers.

“There’s a whole network of alumni who are off the charts floating in the sky right now,” said Castillo, who played club hockey at Loyola.

“Anyone who can go to the Final Four should do their best to get down there,” said Castillo.Because of security measures

in place to protect federal judges, he could not share his viewing plans for the Final Four.

One item on his bucket list: meet Sister Jean.

“It’s like we’re on a mission from God with her on our side,” he said.

John Cullerton, Illinois Senate President

“Each time its been ‘Oh my God, I can’t believe we won. Oh my God, I can’t believe we won,'” he said.

“Their success reminds me of grammar school games where a really well-coached team could easily beat another team with a superstar,” he said.

Cullerton, who was an assistant dorm director during his senior year at Loyola, will not break his string of watching games from a barstool or sofa cushion.

“I wish I could get down to San Antonio. But I have commitments on Easter weekend.”

Rev. Michael Pfleger of St. Sabina Church

“I wish I could be in San Antonio, but it’s called Holy Week. I have baptisms to perform Saturday. And I’ve got to hold on to my day job,” Pfleger joked, noting he’ll be watching the game with St. Sabina parishioners in the Auburn Gresham neighborhood.

“I am proud as can be. It’s something I think is such an important thing for the city. And it’s in line with young people right now controlling the narrative in our country,” he said.

“People are more excited about Loyola nationally than they are about the NBA.

“Chicago needs that right now real bad. I don’t care if Amazon comes or goes, but I want the Ramblers to win!”

Robert Thomas, Illinois Supreme Court Justice

“What impresses me most is the character and the chemistry that the team consistently displays. I have never been more proud to be a Loyola Law alum.”

Dave Pasquesi, actor/comedian

“To be honest, I haven’t been watching. But I think it’s fantastic. Everyone loves an underdog story.”

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