Throughout quarantine, connecting with our friends, family and others continues to be a main way to keep our minds sane during a time of confusion and questioning with COVID-19. From Facetiming to phone calls to the increasingly popular communication outlet Zoom, social interaction online has also found ways to create new connections with new people.
That’s exactly what Lissa Tripp did with her friends and the Gonzaga men’s basketball connection. Infamously known as “ZagsChick” on Twitter, Tripp and her group of friends went out on a limb and formed strong connections with members of the GU Men’s Basketball team in a great way.
Tripp and her friends had been previously doing Zoom calls with each other around when quarantining from the pandemic started, as they live in different parts of the country.
Tripp said one of her friends saw a photo on Twitter of a child with a birthday cake with former GU Men’s Basketball player Jeremy Jones’ face on it. As a running joke, her friends had told her they were going to the same thing for her, and after one of the Zoom calls, Tripp messaged Jones to see if he would want to join the Zoom call, and he eventually did.
“I didn’t expect much out of it,” Tripp said. “He was totally in.”
At that point, Jones had been living with now formers Zag Killian Tillie and Rui Hachimura, along with current Zag Joel Ayayi, and from that point on, a snowball effect was put into play, and on the April 7, the first zoom call with Jones, Tillie, Hachimura and Ayayi began, and the rest was history.
“Every week, I threw it out to whoever, messaged a whole bunch of players, and people were just willing to do it,” Tripp said. “We didn't really expect it, but it's grown.”
Another former Zag that has joined Tripp and the friend group in the group chat is Eric McClellan. At one point Tripp said McClellan had become a regular attendee of the zoom calls, and McClellan has enjoyed being on the zoom calls every time he is asked to be on.
On his first appearance, McClellan had the intention of staying on the call for only 30 minutes, but as time flew, McClellan ended up staying on the call for 3.5 hours.
“They have a great thing going with those zoom calls and I’m so glad they welcomed me with open arms because I had a blast every time,” McClellan said.
McClellan said his favorite parts about joining the zoom calls are getting to know the women on a personal level and the openness and vulnerability that they possess with their guests. He also said he has gained so much respect and has so much admiration for Tripp and her friends for hosting the Zoom calls.
Tripp expressed similar sentiments as McClellan when describing her favorite parts of the Zoom calls, as most of the time being spent in the Zoom call is spent talking about the players’ personal life.
“Most of these guys would hang out or be on the zoom call for at least an hour and a half with us,” Tripp said. “It just really shows you that the Gonzaga community is super strong and really open and it means a lot to these guys.”
Most of the time, Tripp reached out to the different members of the Men’s Basketball team via social media. During each meeting, all seven women repeatedly come back and change the guests on a weekly basis. Three women in the group are GU graduates, and the remaining members are connected to GU in different ways. Everyone in the group either has season tickets or travel together and go to away games.
Tripp is a Spokane native who attended Washington State University. Tripp was drawn to Gonzaga when she moved from Pullman to Spokane, and her boyfriend at the time went to Gonzaga, and went to games in the early 1990s. After experiencing the 1999 season, Tripp said once GU basketball became big, living in Spokane became an easy transition for her.
Even when times get tough, Tripp and her friends were able to take a shot at getting to know a team they love, and the connections they have been able to form with the GU and Spokane community do not go unnoticed.
“That's become our connection now with these people and our friends and traveling, and so it's just really become this huge part of our life,” Tripp said. “I've met a lot of people off of Twitter that have become my friends because of Gonzaga basketball. It's a very tight knit small community. I like it.”