Tuesday Tips: Staying Connected to Friends and Teammates Online

Be the teammate who steps up to organize a virtual hangout this winter to stay connected to your team.

Halifax Salty hanging out on Zoom.

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Winter is always the toughest ultimate season. This year especially will be a challenge; for many players and teams, it may feel like you haven’t seen your friends in the sport in eons. So, keep the dark days of winter merry and bright by staying connected online this cold season.

True, “Zoom Fatigue” is real and it can be painfully awkward to host a video call. Yes, everyone is getting a little tired of doing them. The key, however, is to make a little effort and do a little planning upfront to offer novelty. Follow our prompts below, have a specific way to connect, and keep it fresh with an activity and small group breakout rooms to have a good time!

Here are ten ideas to stay connected this winter.

1. Trivia Night

The classic pub team game lends itself quite nicely to a video call. You can get a few friends together and join one of the many online options being run in the world right now, or even better, have someone host and create their own.

It can be really fun to alternate weeks with people coordinating various themes or topics. Even more fun if you keep them hyper-specific to ultimate or your squad. Do a “Meet Your Teammates” or “Guess Who Did This When They Were Young” section. Or try a category on the rules of the sport, on team plays, or more.

The right trivia in the right hands can be a great way to chat with your friends, reconnect, and also have something enjoyable to do for an evening.

2. Fantasy League

Fantasy leagues aren’t just for traditional sports like football or basketball (although those can also be a good time with your team). With a little creativity, you can create a fantasy league for literally anything out there in the world. Some recent iterations include the Great British Baking Show and Top Chef, The Bachelor, Masked Singer, Marble Racing, and more.

The key is to find something with new episodes coming out — or get a very firm Spirit of the Game commitment that people won’t cheat and Google results on an older season! Agree to some rules, create some point systems, draft players or teams if possible, and let the trash talk ensue! This is especially fun if you add very unique rules (like bonus points for crying) and can watch it at the same time to commentate over text or GroupMe.

3. Watch / Rewatch Parties

With a little coordination, a watch party can be a ton of fun. This one was tailor-made for ultimate if you have some old game footage. Why sit alone at your computer, getting hyped up over last year’s big tourney, when instead you can watch it alongside your friends?

Pause it after every point or so to let discussions ensue, or go full coach mode with specific questions or clips to point out and use as teaching moments.

Ultimate games aren’t the only things you can watch with your team! Have a movie or binge-TV night together and share in the experience! Bring out the old in-joke or holiday favorites.

4. Dance Parties

Pick a great artist — Taylor Swift is the number one recommendation of this writer — or genre (90s music for the win) and then blast a playlist, dancing all the while. If you want to kick it up a notch, do the advance work of clipping songs for the best minute of each and dance Power Hour style!

Switch up the songs to eliminate some of that video call boredom, but do pause every so often for laughter and smack talk over your dance moves.

5. Car Conversations (and Phone Calls)

Just because you aren’t driving on endlessly long road trips to tournaments, doesn’t mean you can’t just talk to your friends in the car.

The next time you go for groceries or drive out for a hike somewhere (or even if you just do it from your own couch), call up a teammate — or two or three! — and recreate some of the fun things you used to do or talk about when trapped in a car together. This is your time for Hot Seat, Never Have I Ever, your hot goss, and just general life-catch up.

Bring out all the fun road trip word game favorites like Botticelli, Contact, or others and play to pass the time and reconnect.

6. Book Club (Article Club)

Book clubs were probably designed for long cold winter nights by the fireside. True, it isn’t as fun when you can snack and drink in the same room with your crew, but Zoom isn’t half bad.

For fun, pick a juicy read or glorious escapism in genre fiction. For informational purposes, maybe pick a book that can help you and your team be better as people. For those we recommend: How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi, So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo, and Rising Out of Hatred by Eli Saslow.

Or go another route and read articles about ultimate together (Tuesday Tips was built for this). Set up discussion questions or ask people for their thoughts, and then share experiences to better connect, reinforce, learn, and enjoy.

7. Game Night

Whether it is Dungeons and Dragons (yes, this is the perfect time to go down that rabbit hole of an adventure) or Codenames (horsepaste.com), there are actually a surprising amount of games that can be played very well over a video call, or even a phone call in a pinch.

Let’s face it, all ultimate players are competitive, and the chance to best your friends individually or when on a team is very tempting.

A few others we recommend for online play include Fishbowl (or Celebrity) — you just need to create a list of names on a shared document –Charades, Blind Man’s Bluff Poker, Who Am I (Card on Head/ Headbands), or any game that can be played over an easy online app or game site. Settlers of Catan is always a personal fave.

8. Teambuilding

There are other fun activities that can be done over video calls for teambuilding. Virtual escape rooms / lock-in games are a blast — check out BreakoutEDU or try to create your own using Google forms. Other team races or ice-breaker games can be created with minimal effort. They might be a little cheesy at first, but a fun activity can not only help you get to know your teammates better, but also trust them just a bit more whenever you do get back to on-field play.

Be creative here and try to assign activities. Some captains in the past have done surveys on personality or Hogwarts houses. Others have had rigorous debates over the best Star Wars character. The possibilities are endless if you use your imagination.

9. Classes / Informational Sessions / Panels

One of the most useful things you and your squad can do this winter when stuck inside is to learn. If you can’t improve yourself physically together, at least do so mentally. These classes can be about ultimate (just like a guided film watch or strategy session), or this is a great chance to learn and reflect about privilege, intersectionality, diversity outreach, and so much more.

Or attend a video class together on something fun. Bartending classes online have been very popular (shoutout to Anna Thorn) as have dance classes, foreign language classes, and more. Have a teammate rotation where each person gets a week to teach something non-ultimate related!

10. Happy Hour / Award Banquet / Formal (Prom)

The Big Kahuna, of course, is a virtual party.

These can be vague and sometimes go off the rails, so do your best to keep a theme and agenda on point. An awards ceremony is always classy — who on the squad will win Most Likely To Be Late or best Shoe Style? — or a happy hour where everyone toasts another teammate. A formal banquet or prom could probably be pulled off with the right DJ and MC.

As always, be creative, be inclusive, and have a grand time.

***

With a little effort and planning, one of these activities can bring you and your ultimate friends closer this winter. All it takes is that one person to step up, plan, and organize.

  1. Alex Rummelhart
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    Alex "UBER" Rummelhart is an Ultiworld reporter. He majored in English at the University of Iowa, where he played and captained IHUC. He lives and teaches in Chicago, Illinois, where he has played for several ultimate teams, including the Chicago Wildfire and Chicago Machine. Alex loves writing of all types, especially telling interesting and engaging stories. He is the author of the novel The Ultimate Outsider, one of the first fictional works ever written about ultimate.

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