The following is a guest post by Jimmy Custer, captain of UNC BatCH. Jimmy also serves as one of the two Directors of Outrageous Affairs in our Funbassador sponsorship program, promoting spirit to college ultimate teams across the country.
Jimmy has played ultimate since high school and is now a graduate student at UNC Chapel Hill. In undergrad, he played for and captained the Muhlenberg Flying Squirrels. He loves the inclusive and weird nature of ultimate and wants to spread it to the masses!
An ultimate team is a family.
Like most ultimate teams, our team experience extends far beyond the field. My teammates are there to pick me up on the field, from the airport, or off the ground on a Saturday night.
My team is crazy close, and that community aspect is something I love dearly about ultimate.
I want to share my team's culture, in hopes that you can connect to it and take something back to your team to grow even closer.
And I'd love to know your weird team traditions and bonding tips! Post them in the comments below so everyone can benefit.
Let's get ultimate cultured!
Recruit and include!
Freshmen start looking for where they fit in at college right when they step on campus, so we like to set up an event early-on to start recruiting and finding future teammates.
Our fall season always starts with an informal pick-up session on Chapel Lawn for Frisbee Friday.
As newbies and veterans are paired into throwing groups, they have casual conversations about college. This first connection is vital to a shy and nervous rookie who's trying to figure out what's what. Having a confident person show interest in them will make them feel special and included.
After the first Friday, everyone is invited back to the Ultimate House for a meet-and-greet BBQ. When I was a freshman, this event was huge for making me feel welcome to the team, to new friendships, and to college in general. I found my group!
My advice: Start early, keep it casual, and make sure everyone feels included. Oh and duh -- make it fun!
lean into tournament bonding
From long road trips to close-quarter hotel rooms, tournaments provide great bonding opportunities for your team.
Car games are awesome, but also don't be afraid to get personal! Some of the deepest conversations I've had with anyone has been on ultimate car rides.
Like most teams, we like to shove 10 people into four-person hotel rooms on the reg. Not only are we poor college students, but we also have rookies that love to sleep on the floor!
After Day 1 of your tournament, then demolishing an Asian buffet, and then a quick power nap, the hotel shenanigans begin. It's time for board games, bad movies, and cuddle puddles!
- Get a first tournament on the books early to get those fishies hooked.
- Mix up the cars! Mash up people across different grades and friend groups to increase optimal bonding!
- When you're checking into your hotel, keep most people in your car and make sure they only use the back door, that is, unless you want to pay for all those extra people you're cramming into the hotel room.
build weird team traditions
Team culture grows from the ridiculousness of teammates clashing, so encourage the crazy!
Here are some of my favorite team traditions on BatCH:
- Apples-and-forks in the dining hall! The objective is simple:
toss an apple and catch it on a fork, and keep going without taking any forks out. Eventually we'll have 10+ forks in the apple and very limited real estate for new ones. Usually by this point, we've captured the attention of the entire dining hall and receive applause for impressive catches.
- Travel with music accompaniment. How else are you going to tell the rest of the student body who the cool kids are?! Our favorite campus-walk-songs are "Call Me Maybe" and "Party in the USA" because duh.
- Middle finger greetings! We've been known to forget this is not a "normal" hello until outsiders questioned us. Whoops!
- Frizz golf around campus. Where bets are made and legends are born. Seriously, if you don't have a makeshift course on your school campus, you should make one. And you're a real pro if you have the final hole in a fountain where the loser has to jump in to retrieve all the discs.
My advice: When weird stuff happens, RAMP IT UP, and recall the epicness of that crazy-fork-catch frequently in conversations! It helps to have some team-wide inside jokes, so everyone feels included.
welcome everyone to the ultimate house
The Ultimate House is the most sacred place on campus.
It doesn't matter if it's a house recognized by the school or an off-campus apartment where a few ultimate seniors live. The walls that make it up don't matter as much as the feeling of being there.
It's a team homebase, a refuge for players to chill, HQ for team meetings, and a party pad for all the most important occasions.
My advice: If you don't have one already, you're gonna need a homebase. And let everyone know this is a team place, where they're always welcome.
give back together
At Muhlenberg where I did my undergrad, all clubs with an official team house had to participate in an outreach event.
Our team participated in College Connect (info about that project and other volunteer programs my college works with on this page), which brought middle school aged kids from a low-income district to campus to learn about college. Our station during their visit taught the kids about physical fitness, and in particular, ultimate. They LOVED it.
Some of these kids didn't get recess in their schools, so giving them an opportunity to run around and learn about our amazing sport was really rewarding. The best part: many of the kids said they wanted to play ultimate in college!
My advice: Get your whole team involved in some sort of outreach (even more worth it if it's ultimate related). It's an awesome team bonding experience and feels great to give back. You can talk to your school administration to find out about what partnerships they already have that you can jump in on, or do some searches in your area for programs that might be a good fit for you.
over to you!
Tell us about your team bonding experiences in the comments below!