After every Ultimate Frisbee game – as in many sports – my teammates and I line up and shake hands with the other team. Generally, I give each person a generic “nice game” or “good luck tomorrow,” and they do the same to me.

It’s not an especially personal interaction – as I’m clapping hands with one player I am already making eye contact with the next – but it’s a nice gesture. As ritualized and second nature as it has become, shaking hands reflects that no matter how the game went, we are ending in peace and good sportsmanship.

And so that’s all we do. After we go through the line, our focus shifts completely to our team and the next game.

At least that’s how it was until recently.

At a tournament in Cincinnati last month, the captain of the University of Wisconsin Stevens Point team approached us after we shook hands and asked if we’d like to say a quick prayer with them before we moved to our next game. Slightly taken aback but excited about the idea, about 10 of us from the Notre Dame team joined the Stevens Point players to kneel together in the center of the field on which we had played.

The prayer was simple – a Stevens Point player led us in thanking God for the sport, the opportunity to compete against each other and protection from injury. We then said a Hail Mary together and, smiling and clapping hands once more, went back to our respective teams.

This surprise invitation stuck with me and a lot of the other Notre Dame players. As students at a Catholic university, we felt like there was no reason we couldn’t invite opposing teams to pray with us like those public school students did.

And so that’s what we have done. After every game, we invite the team we just played to join us for a quick prayer. Sometimes most of the team joins us, sometimes none of them do, but either way we end every game with prayer. And I can definitely see a change. After we pray with a team, everyone seems happier and some barrier between the teams is broken.

High fives and “good luck tomorrow” wishes are authentic and heartfelt.  Players ask how each other’s days have been going for games and give advice for how to best approach other teams.

A few players from one team joined in with a few of my teammates in some kind of high-energy game that involved spiking an empty milk carton into the ground. All of the sudden, players from different teams who normally stay in their own territory start acting like friends.

As cliché as it may sound, the postgame prayer brings players who were just on opposing teams onto the same team of faith. The newfound sense of camaraderie is no surprise when you see it as a result of the discovery of common ground through prayer.

Praying after games had never occurred to me because I saw Ultimate and prayer as two distinct aspects of my life. Just as I would never think of throwing a disc during the second reading, prayer on the field seemed out of context. But prayer is never out of context.

And actually, a large part of the reason that I appreciate this new tradition is the new environment. Prayer in solitude is important, but there is a different and equally great value to communal prayer. It’s for the same reason that eating meals with friends is so fun: there is something special about community.

Our post-game prayer is a small change, but an important one. As representatives of Notre Dame, and in some ways, Catholicism, this small act helps us display the values and positive atmosphere that we should be spreading.

Even a swift and simple prayer can lift spirits and reflect sportsmanship better than any high five line.

(Jacob, the eldest of the four Scobey-Polacheck children, is a sophomore at the University of Notre Dame.)