The Pull, a unique tug-of-war contest, is one of America’s oldest standing college traditions: on Saturday, Hope College will experience the Pull for the 120th time. Each year, freshman and sophomore teams face each other from each bank of Black River, attempting to claim the rope for themselves.
Each team is comprised of 18 Pullers and 18 Moralers, who direct and support the Pullers for three rigorous hours. Even Year teams stick together while those of Odd Year form their own unity. Every year, the coaches pass down traditions to the current teams, and seniors coach the sophomore team while the junior coach is responsible for the freshmen. After having participated in the Pull as a team member, students have the opportunity to be selected as the next coach by the current ones.
This year, Allison Tooley ’18 is a coach for the ’20 Pull team after having been a ’18 Moraler for two years. By working with her fellow coaches to prepare the sophomores for this year’s competition, she has become familiar with the traditions and strategies unique to the Even Year teams. Allison has been practicing intensively for the past three weeks and promoting Hope’s significant tradition by dressing in the traditional colors of red and white for the first five weeks of the semester.
Allison learned about the Pull already in her childhood, as her parents participated in the event when they were students at Hope College. Her father, Eric Tooley, was a Puller on the ’87 Pull Team and her mother, Anne Hathaway Tooley, participated as a Morale Girl on the ’88 Pull Team. For both Eric and Anne, the Pull was one of the first events that shaped their experience at Hope College, where a shared purpose and commitment to hard work instantly brought their respective teams together. As the Tooley Family exemplifies, the Pull connects students in marvelous ways and creates meaningful, lifelong friendships.
In addition to the Pull, the Tooley Family also upholds the tradition of the college’s Greek Life: Both Allison and her sister, Katelyn, are Sigmas, while Anne is a Delphi and Eric a Frater. In 2015, Katelyn graduated with a dual major in Business and Political Science, and Allison is a senior majoring in Business.
This weekend, the Tooley Family will be cheering for the ’20 Pull Team at the Rope Run on Friday and at the Pull on Saturday. To them, the Pull is an incredibly meaningful tradition, and so much more than a game of tug-of-war.