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Gonzaga Basketball
Sports >  Gonzaga basketball

Group of Gonzaga fans connects with players - via Zoom

UPDATED: Mon., May 4, 2020

Former Gonzaga guard Eric McClellan, bottom left, joined last Tuesday’s Zoom session with this group of Zags superfans. Included in the group are Lissa Tripp, Diana Berger, Tricia Waide, Molly Nave, Camden Finney, Karin Visintainer, Becky Stillo. (Twitter / Courtesy)
Former Gonzaga guard Eric McClellan, bottom left, joined last Tuesday’s Zoom session with this group of Zags superfans. Included in the group are Lissa Tripp, Diana Berger, Tricia Waide, Molly Nave, Camden Finney, Karin Visintainer, Becky Stillo. (Twitter / Courtesy)
By Justin Reed The Spokesman-Review

Maintaining connections is important, yet tough, in the age of quarantine as face-to-face experiences are minimal.

With a majority of the economy, specifically the entertainment industry, put on hold, the ability to see friends – especially those out of town – is difficult.

Luckily, technology available today allows people to stay connected during a time when day-to-day tasks are increasingly mundane.

For seven women who have built a friendship around Gonzaga basketball – or the lack thereof this March – hopping on the Zoom video conferencing trend was important to stay in touch.

What began as a time to hang out and talk over a few glasses – or more – of wine, morphed into something more Zag-centric, all based on a wild idea.

For the past month on Tuesdays at 6 p.m., Lissa Tripp and her six friends have enjoyed their normal company with an injection of Bulldog basketball talk. When the NCAA Tournament was canceled, Zag basketball was terminated early, leaving a void behind. While the Zoom calls weren’t designed to fill that void, they have turned into weekly Zag discussions.

“It didn’t start that way, we weren’t thinking about it, but it definitely has turned into that,” Tripp said. “It’s just kind of something to look forward to. It’s fun, and it’s anything (from) talking basketball and just talking about anything to Gonzaga stuff.”

The first person to make an appearance was Jeremy Jones, who happened to be with Rui Hachimura, Joel Ayayi and Killian Tillie.

Talk about starting off with a bang.

Since then, Gary Bell Jr., Jordan Mathews, Eric McClellan and Johnathan Williams have stopped by to chat.

Another Zoom participant, Diana Berger, who was at the forefront of the calls with Tripp, has had the most fun watching her friends react to who joins the calls, because she and Tripp usually don’t spill who will be on each Tuesday.

“It has been awesome. And most of the time, only a couple of us know who’s coming on,” Berger said. “So I think seeing the reactions from everybody else (is my favorite part) … but the other great part is that the guys just hang, it’s not this quick appearance.”

Former Zag Rem Bakamus was on three weeks ago with Sam Dower, and he will be back on soon with another former player. He said he is excited to be more involved the next time around as he spent a majority of the first time just absorbing their interactions.

In order to make the calls more comfortable to everyone, specifically for the former players, the seven friends just bring them on like another friend. They don’t force feed questions about basketball, instead they just talk like it was their eighth friend joining.

“Yeah, it’s very rarely actually basketball talk unless they get into it,” Tripp said. “I mean, we’ll ask some random questions, but we’re not in interview mode. Let’s just have some wine and hang out. We’re all pretty bored, right? I’m sure they are, too.”

“These are high profile people in the Gonzaga community, but they’re just like the rest of us,” Berger said. “They want to connect, to chat and have something to do. And just the fact that they’re willing to do it and come on with these crazy girls … That’s just awesome.”

The exception was McClellan, who actually came with questions to ask them.

As GU players continue to hop on their Zoom calls, it reinforces the sort of players GU recruits and brings on board.

“It says a lot about the culture with the players,” Bakamus said. “Coach (Mark) Few, Tommy (Lloyd), (Brian Michaelson), all those guys, they just build the best culture possible. So, there are no knuckleheads, there are no guys who have big egos that come through. So it just it just shows how special it is to be a Zag and what type of person you have to be.”

On top of that, it isn’t just the players who have a reputation to uphold, as Bulldog fans are notorious for their intense and faithful fandom.

“It’s a testament to how loyal they are when they’re willing to talk to Rem Bakamus, who was a walk-on,” Bakamus said. “I played almost no minutes, didn’t score all the points, and they still show me love and appreciation.”

And don’t expect another group Zoom call to be as successful if another one tries to build on the foundation this one has built.

“Everybody could say they want to have Gonzaga guys come on their Zoom calls and discuss whatever, but (these women) actually had guts to start it and to do it and reach out,” Bakamus said. “And they just make it fun and good entertainment, but I just really respect how they had the guts and confidence to go out and start contacting people and really get it started.”

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