Three hours. Two teams. One rope.

Odd year pullers in the pits

The 119th Pull is Saturday, October 1

More Information about the Pull on Saturday, October 1

There’s nothing quite like the Pull. One of the longest-running college traditions in the country, the three-hour tug-of-war is going into its 119th season.

In a Hope College tradition that began in 1898, freshman and sophomore teams face one another across the water on a crisp fall day, tethered together by a rope that each intends to claim. Three weeks of practice in the month of September lead the teams to Pull day. Each team has a total of 36 members: 18 “pullers” on the rope, and 18 “moralers” who relay directions and help keep the pullers focused.

“Come out and see the tug-of-war between the Sophomores and the A’s and Freshmen.”

—The Anchor, November 1898

Every year, the pullers push themselves to the limit (many say past the limit), by working in unison with team mates who are also giving their all. They face an opponent that they cannot see, but who they know are doing the same.

A puller waits for the signal from the moraler — their eyes, since they cannot see the signals while lying in the pit — and then heave for all they’re worth, willing the rope home. Then they lock in and try to keep the other side from doing the same.

This is repeated again and again.

In three hours, maybe less, the contest will be over. The memories, though, will last a lifetime.

The sophomore class of 2018 won the 118th Pull.