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Pull Reflections

The Alumni Office invited alumni who participated in The Pull to submit their memories of this great tradition. These memories were submitted for the 100-year celebration of The Pull in 1997.


" Come out and see the tug-of-war between the Sophomores and the A's and Freshmen."

--The Anchor, November, 1898

"(W)e the freshmen of the 1913 class pulled the sophomores thru the creek, which was somewhere east of the Pilgrim Cemetery--they hardly got their feet wet. The following year...the first pull across Black River was held."

--the Rev. B.T. VanderWoude '13, in a 1958 recollection

"My album underneath this picture [a photo of the 1924 Pull] indicates we had three minutes to dig our holes. But mine as anchor was already dug. Does the anchor person still wear a horse collar around his body for protection? The holes in my day were not as elaborate as the 1988 ones [pictured in the April news from Hope College] seemed to be."

--Julius F. Schipper '28; Akron, Ohio

"The Pull of 1926 is still vivid in my aging memory. I was a member of the freshman Pull team. The Pull resulted in a tie that year.

"Our coaches (two juniors) decided on a 'strategy.' According to the rules then in force, there was first a period of pulling, primarily to take in the slack of the rope. During this period, both teams were prone in their holes. I'm not sure about the duration of this period, probably 15 or 20 minutes.

"Our coaches decided that at ONE MINUTE before the signal to 'Stand Up' we freshmen would stand up and begin to heave on the rope. Thus, when the sophomores were forced by the referees to stand up, they would be caught off-balance and we would be able to pull them out of their holes and into the Black River.

"The trouble was, the sophomores' coaches came up with the VERY SAME STRATEGY!

"As a result, neither team became fully standing. We continued to heave on equal terms and in spite of the referees' best efforts, neither team ever became fully standing as we continued to pull for, I believe, another 20 minutes, or possibly a half-hour.

"Finally, the Pull was declared to be a tie."

--Leonard S. Hogenboom '30; Orange City, Fla.

"I was a puller in the Hope College Tug in 1931. Coach Jack Scholten gave us some training and supplied something to toughen our hands. I think it was called tincture of benzoin and made the hands turn brown. Can't remember much about it but found that it was a team thing and that rhythm and stamina were as important as weight and strength. Can't remember who won or whether it was called on account of rain, but it was a good fun event for all."

--Kenneth S. Karsten '35; Spring Hill, Fla.

"Our class of '36 won the Pull in both 1932 and 1933. I was elected Coach in both 1934 and 1935.

"In 1934 we endured one of the longest Pulls in history and in 1934 we lost. I was awarded a voice scholarship in 1933 and I nearly ruined my voice.

"In 1935 I coached the shortest Pull in history. We trained hard. The morning of the Pull in 1935 I said to the team, (and they agreed to do it,) 'Let's get the Pull started and after four times going back and forth, we'll take the rope and run. That will get them off guard.' They agreed. As a result, we had the shortest pull in the History of Hope College. We won. It was great. My voice teacher was happy."

--George Douma '36, Grand Rapids, Mich.

"Raymond Huizenga was anchor man on his team in 1938 or 1939. He was a freshman in '38 and I'm not sure whether he was on the team in his freshman or sophomore year -- or both.

"I was a 'moraler.' We were not really organized: we had lemon slices ready for the men and damp cloths to mop their sweating brows. And, of course we yelled and cheered until our voices were totally gone.

"The winning team got to drag the rope through the girls' dorm, Voorhees Hall. What a gala occasion! We hailed the boys as heroes and had stacks of sandwiches and gallons of punch waiting as rewards.

"Ray went into the service when the war broke out. He graduated after returning home, but I don't know the year. He died some years ago, but it would be nice to list his name with the 'heroes of the Pull.' "

--Ruth DeYoung '41 Potts, Grenelefe, Fla.

"I was on the Pull team as a freshman in 1939, and as a sophomore in 1940. We won both years!

"Our freshman team was coached by 'Stretch' Pennings, and our sophomore team by Wilfred Hasbrouck. Hasbrouck was so confident of our victory that he wore a three piece suit to the Pull. The picture on page 62 of the 1941 Milestone shows him with his jacket removed, but still wearing his vest and shirt and tie. (Truth be known: he was wearing a bathing suit underneath the suit!)...

"I assisted the coach of the freshman team of 1941, which won the Pull, and was coach of that team as sophomores in 1942. Those teams included my twin brother, the late Henry Fylstra.

"Unfortunately, we lost as sophomores and I suffered the indignity of finally going through the river as a senior!!

"The freshmen of that year were coached by the late Albert DeVoogd, who had lost to us as a freshman in 1940. The picture on page 62 of the 1941 Milestone shows Al in the river holding the rope. He got his revenge in 1942.

"I recall how, when we went into the river, I told my team to try going downstream, hoping to pull the freshmen out of their holes. Al saw what we were up to and quickly took a pole, tucked it into the ground to keep the rope on target, and thumbed his nose at us (which I never forgot!). Lest I give the wrong impression, let me say that I gave Al some help in his first pastorate in Traverse City and later visited him in 1960 in the mission field of Chiapas, Mexico."

--Daniel H. Fylstra '43; Phoenix, Ariz.

"During the war years the Pull was only done our freshman year. I've tried to remember who I was representing on the team, but have been unable to recall."

--Betty DeVries Veldhuis '42; Mount Pleasant, Mich.

"Reporting in: I was a member of the Pull team in the fall of 1941 and 1942. Twice I and my team mates went through the river; down to defeat twice, as freshmen and sophomores.

"The above took place when I was a member of the class of 1945. You will not find my name among those of that class. There was another pressing job to be done and many left Hope to get it accomplished. I was then on a winning team, praise the Lord, as we were the victors of the fighting in World War II. I returned to Hope and graduated with the class of 1948."

--Raymond L. Miller '48; Hubbard Lake, Mich.

"I was a freshman in the 1942 Pull and participated as a sophomore in probably the first post-war Pull in 1946. My strongest memory involves our coaching. Albert DeVoogd was the coach on both pull teams I joined. Al gave the process a thorough analysis and was very successful in having teams that won decisively. In those days, the rules called for a period (I believe 30 minutes) in which all pullers sat in shallow pits where they could brace their feet at the front and achieve good leverage. After that period, however, we all had to stand up, and pure brawn took over. During the first period, the rope would go back and forth with each side alternately pulling back to a prone position on their backs, then being pulled up to a sitting position with arms fully extended, each side the opposite of the other at any given time. This usually developed into a rhythmic to and fro which usually consumed the first period with little activity. Once the first period was over, things usually developed rather quickly
.
" Al DeVoogd looked this over and determined that the pull could be won in that first period. He reasoned correctly that a puller was at his most vulnerable when sitting up with his arms extended. Both his balance and leverage were at their weakest point. Al looked for ways to exploit this weakness and found two:

"1. Instead of weighty brawny pullers, as had been customary, Al sought out rangy guys with longer arms. (I was 6'1" at 138 pounds my Frosh year - 6 feet was tall in those days, 138 pounds was, and remains puny.) We were given the usual calisthenics and hand-toughening chemical treatments, but were also trained to reach an extra 2 or 3 inches when we grasped the rope for the pulling cycle. We were then trained to pull as far as we could at the end of the cycle. That extra few inches caught the opposition when they were in the awkward end of their coming upright phase and caused the rope to be pulled through their hands, rubbing raw their grasping area. Halfway through the first pull phase, they had very tender hands.

"2. The second exploitation also attacked the opposition at their most vulnerable. When they were sitting upright with hands extended beyond a range of good leverage, we were lying back with good leverage. At a signal from Al, the back four (and strongest) of our 12-man team simply braced themselves, rolled over on the rope and clamped down. The opponents, at their weakest part of the cycle, couldn't pull back and suffered a few moments of confusion. The remaining eight of us meanwhile had released our hold, sat back up, and again grasped the rope for our pullback. The results on the other side were men pulled from their holes, blistered hands and general chaos. After we ran this 'play', we resumed the regular back-and-forth for a while, and then did it again. After a few runs, Al gave a signal, and we all grabbed the rope, got to our feet and headed for the rear. We were all tired, but the victory was relatively easy.

"I assume that, to people on later Pulls, sophistication set in and these strategies were improved upon and outdated. It's to Al's credit they were used successfully by him, probably a first. I was surprised we got away with using it the second time in 1946. In any case, I feel Al should have credit for major development in the art.

"As for other members of the teams I pulled with, I regret I can't mention but a few other than those you have on your list. Pulls were always held in the early Fall, and on both occasions I was in a student population that was brand new to me at the time. I do remember that Don Lam (Reverend '49), Howard Koop ('49) and Bob Nyboer ('49) were on one or both teams I served.
" Probably more than you wanted to know, but it's as I remember it 50+ years later."

--Bob Snow '49, Holland, Mich.

"I have two memories. First, we as freshmen really thought we would win because we had dug additional holes to make the soph holes out of line. We covered our new holes so no one knew of them. Obviously, it did not work. My second memory was of how cold the Black River was and how cold we all were while riding back to T Dorm on an open, flat bed truck. Those hot showers sure felt good. The yearbook had a picture of me being the first one through the river.

--Siebern Vander Wagen '54, Palos Heights, Ill.


" In 1948 I was a member of the freshman Pull team. One afternoon the freshman girls who wished to be morale girls came out to the tennis courts. When it came time to choose one, I saw that cute girl who was in my Bible class. I didn't even know her name but I said to the coach, 'I'll pick that one' and pointed to her. I found out that her name was Rae Eustace. I had no idea that I was picking her for life. She had not planned to go, but her roommate begged her to go.

"Rae is still my morale girl after 49 years. We have been married for 44 years."

--John Du Mez '52; Holland, Mich.


" Only memory - got wet, dirty, no skin left on hands, but a lot of fun. Didn't pull as a sophomore because I went out for football."

-- John A. "Jack" Johnson '52, Sodus Point, N.Y.


" I pulled as a sophomore in 1950. I don't remember getting wet, so I think we won! I weighed about 140, so the sophs must have been desperate for bodies that year. Another item stands out in my mind. My morale girl failed to show up, so my mother jumped the fence to provide help."

--Don Hillebrands '53; Naples, Fla.


" Fall of 1950--on Freshman team, we practiced almost six weeks on the old Buys Field site: 20 minutes in the pits, one minute break, had to stand up; the night before we had secretly dug footholds which were quickly uncovered by the 'morale girls'; this new line of holes jerked the sophs out of their holes and we almost took the Pull immediately; however, they stopped the onslaught by wrapping the rope around a tree and re-trenching; our shallow holes gave in and we went in the river after about 35 more minutes; I was the lightest at 143 pounds, my roommate, Russ DeYoung, our anchor, was 320 pounds!

"Fall of 1952--I assisted head coach Jack Kalee with the frosh Pull team; held at the Country Club in a murky rain, a tie called sometime after two hours, a grand mud bath; an editorial in the Anchor addressed itself to this mess.

"Fall of 1953--again assisted Jack Kalee; at the old site; the sophs won, but I don't believe the frosh went through the river as previously went on."

--Earl A. Laman '54; Holland, Mich.


" I have two memories. First, we as freshment really thought we would win because we had dug additional holes to make the sophomore holes out of line. We covered out new holes so no one knew of them. Obviously, it did not work and my second memory was of how cold the Black River was and how cold we all were while riding back to T Dorm on an open, flatbed truck. Those hot showers sure felt good. The yearbook had a picture of me being the first one through the river."

--Siebern Vander Wagen '54; Palos Heights, Ill.


" 1952 - Held at the Country Club location due to high water; Pull ended in a tie.

"1953 - On the winning soph team

"1954 - A junior coach of the winning freshman

"1955 - Head senior coach of the winning soph team."

--Tom TenHoeve '56; Holland, Mich.


" High point: Listening to the girls sing under my window the night before. (I lived in Kuyper house next to Voorhees Annex).

"Low point: Going through the river as a sophomore.

"Excuse: I still had body strength but the rope was wet and muddy and so my hands gave out."

--James Baker '57, Long Beach, Calif.


" I was a Pull participant in 1953 as a sophomore. I remember it well, probably because we won: or maybe it was because of the blisters. I was also athletic publicity director from '53 to '56, so I think I covered the Pull a couple of times."

--Charles Pettengill '57; Hagman, N.Y.


" What made the [1954] event so grand was that by winning the Pull [as freshmen], we no longer had to wear our 'pots.'"

--Janet Baird '58 Weisiger; Fineview, N.Y.


" I grew up on M-21 next to the Pull site. If I remember right, one year the pullers on the south side tried a new strategy. They all left their holes for a set a little west of where they started. They hoped to pull the north side out of their holes and into the water. Big Mistake!!!

--Ray Vinstra '58; Kalamazoo, Mich.


" Has anyone reminded you that there was no pull in the fall of 1957? The campus was suffering from Asian Flu and the pull was canceled?

"And Sophomores don't always win. The Frosh won in the fall of 1958."

--James Betke '61; Oak Park, Ill.


I had known Jim all my life. We had gone to high school together. He dated a lot of my friends, both in high school and at HOPE! (I was engaged my freshman year at Hope but, the engagement was broken off by my sophomre year.) Jim was a "puller" our sophomore year and asked me to be his morale girl. We were married in June of 1961. I would like to know how many other "pullers" married their "Morale" girls!

--Judith Van Leeuwen Cook '61; Bradenton, Fla.


" I was on the Pull team in '59 and '60, and my wife Marilyn Slot was my morale girl both years. In fact we met on the practice field."

--Keith Louwenaar '63; Saratoga, Calif.


" In my freshman year, I joined other girls from our cottage to check out pull practice one evening to see what the pull was all about. In the second to the last "pit" was a guy I had seen at other freshmen events, but never met. We struck up a conversation and after several other practices, he asked me to become his morale girl. His name is John Koelbel. John and I participated in the pull in our sophomore year. John coached the class of 1966 teams in his junior and senior years. We were married in the summer of 1964.

"In the fall of 1990, our daughter, Nikole entered Hope College. Because of our history with the pull, she went to practice and became a morale girl in her freshman and sophomore years. She was chosen one of three morale girl coaches in her junior and senior years. We traveled from our home in Montana to see the pull in her senior year. We discovered one change in the pull was all the teams had T-shirts with their class number on the front and a name on the back. Nikole had T-shirts made for us with 64 printed on the front -- on the back was the word TRADITION. The pull will always remain one of our most favorite memories!!"

--Lenora "Norie" Vanden Berg '64 Koelbel, Missoula, Mont.

"I remember it was a fun day. I have no idea who my puller was. I was chosen at the last minute. It was fun and it is a great tradition"

--Meredythe Noorlag Poltrock '64; Oak Brook, Ill.


" I, Jim Serum, class of '65, was on the 1962/3 (my sophomore year) Pull team. I think that we set a record that year for the longest Pull ever in history (three-plus hours). They finally gave us a time limit or they would call it a draw. We dreaded that more than anything so we finally won it. I had to be pulled out of the hole and could hardly breathe properly for days. I had to go to the clinic but made sure I didn't go until after the Pull dance that night."

--Jim Serum '65; West Chester, Pa.

"I was a puller (anchor man) on the 1963 and 1964 pull teams. Unfortunately, we were dragged through the mud both years. I believe the 1963 pull was one of the longest in history (over three and one half hours, as I recall). In 1964 we were beaten by trickery. Some scouts for the opposing team climbed trees on the river bank and picked up our signals. I guess they knew we were the superior team and they couldn't beat us fair and square."

--Leslie L. Cole '67; Williamson, N.Y.

"I am a member of the class of 1967 and was a Morale Girl in the fall of 1963 for a fellow student named Harvey Lucas. We 'enjoyed' many hours of work in preparation for the big event along with all the new and exciting adventures of being a freshman and living in the '60s on a campus devoted to discouraging the behavior of the times. This was probably a very good thing in those days even though it was not appreciated at the time. The war in Vietnam was really heating up and the guys were trying to keep the GPAs up and avoid the draft. Unfortunately some did not and some never returned, much like our efforts at the Pull. It is wonderful that the tradition continues, this is so important in our daily lives. So here is to the class of '67, we didn't win as freshmen plus I am sure we were one of the few sophomore classes that did not win either, but we tried and shall always remember the good times."

--Cheryl Schueneman '67 End; Carrollton, Texas

"Naval Academy entrants go through 'Hell Week' and 'Plebe Summer.' Freshman pullers at Hope go through "Pull Practice." They're probably on the same level of personal punishment! Winning as a Freshman in 1964 was a great thrill.

"Had the pleasure of coaching with Chris Plasman (head coach) and Denny Farmer in 1966 and 1967. Lost both years! 1966 was the first Sports Illustrated story, and it was a big kick to be a part of that. Chris and I, by the way, are first cousins. Wonder if we're the only cousins to coach together?"

--G. John Tysse '68, McLean, Va.

"We lost [in 1969] to the sophomore class in one of the longest pulls in history to that point (this was before a time limit was placed on the Pull). I ended up going to Holland Hospital due to severe dehydration and cramping. My experience overall was good. But, boy, was it a lot of work getting ready for it!...I made a lot of friends and created quite a bond as a result."

--Roger Buffum '73; Grand Rapids, Mich.

"I am a '78 graduate who participated as a Puller in both 1974 and 1975, victorious both years...

"In 1976 I assumed the role of Pull chairman, responsible for organizing and overseeing the event. Interestingly, this was the year where the Pull just went on...and on...and on. We eventually were forced to call a draw...Several modifications in the way the event was managed evolved from this historical snafu.

"The Pull continues to bring many good memories."

--Brian S. Bradley '78; Ann Arbor, Mich.

"In 1974 we had the Pull twice. The rope broke during the Friday Pull and we had to do it again on Monday. We won that one as freshmen and won again as sophomores."

--Ann Northuis '78 Knoll; Grand Haven, Mich.

"In the 1974 Pull, the freshman class of '78 and the sophomore class of '77 reeled in the rope at the gun, threw the first heaves, and broke the rope with 'power never seen on any pull teams before or since.' The rope was tied in a knot, put back in the boat, reeled in, and broken again on the first heave. After this, the pull was rescheduled (quite an emotional roller coaster) with a new rope. We were all given pieces of the broken rope as mementos. At the rescheduled date, the freshmen won, in the longest pull ever (3+ hours). This caused the rule committee to impose time limits on future events and began a streak of four wins for the class of '78, freshman and sophomore years and both years coaching frosh and sophomore teams."

--Brian Stauffer '78, Holland, Mich.

"Friday afternoon 1974 Pull. As the freshman class we were elated to bring in so much rope, until we learned the rope broke. Dan went to Chicago and a new rope was brought back to Holland for the Pull the following Monday. The freshman class of '78 won both the 1974 and 1975 Pulls.

--name not provided, '78

"I was on the '79 Pull team in 1976, my sophomore year, as a Morale Girl (back when that term was used, not 'Moraler') with Bobby Glover. We lost, terribly, one of the few sophomore classes to lose, with many 'popped pits' and doubling up (completely ineffective, but you're pretty desperate at that point). There was no time limit then (I think the time limit rule is good). I've only been back to one Pull since graduating, and plan to come to this 100th one. Being on a Pull team is a completely unique, almost indescribable experience. Calling it a 'tug-of-war' is a ludicrous understatement."

"One of my best pull memories didn't happen at the Pull. I was only on the team my sophomore year, '79 Pull Team. We lost. But I remember when the bus taking us back to campus pulled up by Durfee, we passed, slowly, the bus with the jubiliant, rowdy '80 Pull Team. As we passed our eyes met. They became as quiet as we were. There was no jeering or taunting of the losers, and in that moment I could tell that they respected both our grief and our efforts; the Pull is not won, nor lost, easily.

--Janine Hahn '79 Zoellner; Walkerton, Ind.

"I pulled in the Pit #1 for two years and coached the '82 Pull team my junior and senior years...

"Luanne Ramaccia was my morale girl each year. I have not maintained contact with her, but her impact on me was significant--as was the impact of the people with whom I pulled, pulled against and coached. I think about the Pull often...especially every fall...around the last week in September. Interestingly, my Pull memories are more vivid than any others from college. And, I'm not referring just to the event itself but the practices and meetings and parties. The Saturday practices were especially brutal. The dunes at Tunnel Park never looked so large as they do at Saturday at 7 a.m. in mid-September.

"I have amazing memories about the eerie feeling about going to the river the day before and after the Pull to first dig and then fill in the pits. The sense that you're visiting a battlefield and filling graves has a sick irony. I miss everything about the Pull. The friendships developed. The teamwork built. The trust learned. I don't know if there really is a more team-oriented event where women and men play active, essential roles not only in practice but on that Friday as well. And, interestingly, the morale girls are incredibly critical to the process...both in practice, after practice and in mentally and physically preparing for the event. To what other sporting event could you compare it?"

--Patrick O'Sullivan '80; Winston-Salem, N.C.

"If I am correct, the Pull my sophomore year (1977-78) was among the longest, if not the longest. I believe it was over three hours long (three and a half). It was finally declared a draw because it was getting so dark the girls could not see the coaches to call the signals, and they were afraid someone would be hurt. I remember that they had the other side get off the rope first, and our side began taking rope. We thought we were finally winning, and it was hard to convince the Pullers to get off the rope. I believe they set a time limit after that. I also remember it being quite dark by then and being hoarse for three days from shouting for three and a half hours. It was one of the best experiences of my four years at Hope!"

--Carla Hoover '80 Snyder; Grand Rapids, Mich.

"I graduated in 1980 and I pulled as a freshman in 1976 and as a sophomore in 1977 (the one that went three hours and 51 minutes, and motivated the time limit rule). The Pull was one of the most important events in my life, and in the six total weeks of the Pull (three weeks my freshman year and three weeks of my sophomore year), I learned more about myself than I did in any six years of my life. And I grew more, as a person, in those six weeks than in any six years of my life. It was a truly wonderful experience and I thank God that I was able to participate in it.

"The memory that I'd like to share is from my second Pull, when, as a sophomore, we tied the freshman in the 3 hour, 51 minute Pull that led to the current set of rules.

"Needless to say, 3 hours and 51 minutes is a long time to stay on the rope. Unlike my first Pull as a freshmen (in which we won), the time didn't seem to fly by, I guess because it was so close. Also, as dusk drew near, we weren't sure how long the Pull would be allowed to go, so we were getting worried about that. And, of course, it seemed like a long time because 4 hours spent in pain IS a long time.

"I remember that a TV reporter and camera man from a Grand Rapids station were there and stayed on our side for the entire Pull. They were allowed in the pit area and I remember hearing afterwards that their original plans were to spend some time on our side and then go to the Freshman's side for more footage/film. However, as I've seen happen may other times, once you start watching a team, you become too involved to leave and it turns out that there isn't a lot of traffic between the sides. Anyway, after their film ran out, the TV camera man and reporter stayed in our pit area and cheered us on. As darkness fell, the camera man turned the large spotlight of his camera on our coach, Brian Hipwell, so the Morale Girls could see the signals. Soon after that, we began to steadily gain rope and, after what seemed like a few minutes, the rope went slack and we pulled it in. Needless to say, we celebrated and laughed and cried and hugged each other as much as our fatigue would let us. And then we got word that the judge on the other side decided that the Pull had gone too long and that we had an advantage with the light, so he told the freshman to drop the rope. It took a while for the news to sink in. However, I didn't feel any real disappointment, not then nor at any time afterwards. Instead, I felt joy and satisfaction that I had done my best, that I had pushed myself as hard as anyone could, and that I hadn't let my friends nor myself down.

"When we got back to campus, I walked over to Kollen to shower and change. In the darkness outside the front doors, a tall older fellow who I recognized as a professor (but who's name I can't remember for the life of me) came up to me and said he was the judge on the freshman side who had decided to call it a draw. I don't remember his exact words, but he expressed his sorrow at having been the one responsible for ending the pull and for our temporary delusion of winning. He seemed to think that he needed to apologize to our team and wanted to know the location of the party. I also don't remember my exact words, but I think I told him that he didn't need to apologize, that he had done what he thought was right, that it was an even fight between two well-matched teams, and, besides, there were no losers since you can't lose when you've done your best. He seemed relieved by my words, thanked me, and left.

"Upstairs in the hallway, I met Bill Patmos, a tough freshman puller who was Pit 17 and who looked as beat as I felt. Prior to the pull, we'd kept our distance since we were on opposing teams. However, when we saw each other, all we could do was smile and give each other one of the firmest and most meaningful had shakes that I have ever exchanged (considering that about a quarter of the skin on my hands was still on the rope, it was also one of the most painful).

"It's been 20 years since that day and I can't tell you how many times I've thought of it. That memory has helped me get thru many difficult times. It has helped me realize that many victories are fleeting and that the only real triumph is to know that, when you needed to, you fought your hardest and you did your best.

"God bless Hope College and Long Live the PULL!!!"

--David J. Sevens '80; San Antonio, Texas

"September 25 is a day to remember in our house. That is the day, after all, it all started for my husband and me. September 25, 1981, was the year the 1984 Pull team (we were the sophomores) won the Pull. It was also the day a Puller, Dean Welch, and his morale girl, Deb Wetback, started dating. We were married two-and-a-half years later (after graduation) and now have three children, Aaron (nine years), Laurel (seven) and Joshua (four). Who knows if our paths would ever have crossed had it not been for the Pull, so every year on September 25 we reflect back on the excitement of winning the Pull, and to the excitement of starting our lives together. After 13 years we are still 'Pulling together.' Who knows, maybe some year in the future we will be back along the banks of the Black River, this time as spectators, cheering our own children on as they pull for their Hope College class."

--Dean Welsch '84 and Deb Wettack '84 Welsch; Saint Peters, Mo.

"It was a fantastic experience, but one that required the most combined mental and physical dedication of any athletic experience I had ever been a part of in my life. It is an experience that I am proud to say I was part of!"

--Ted J. Grund '86; Madison, Wis.

"Typically, the pullers in the first couple of pits can tell when their opponents are preparing to throw a heave by feeling changes in the tension of the rope. Often, pit #1 pullers relay this 'advance notice' to the coach, who would give the signal to strain. Straining in anticipation of a heave is a defensive move to prevent the other team from taking rope on their heave, or, if properly executed, straining may even take rope from the opponent while they are in the vulnerable 'inch-up' position. Therefore, it is desirable to eliminate the changes in rope tension when preparing to throw a heave since doing so prevents the opponent from taking the defensive 'strain' position.

"To my knowledge, I don't think this strategy existed prior to the [Fall, 1983] Pull:

"Our team's method of eliminating such changes in rope tension was to have the pullers in pits 1, 2 and 3 strain while the remaining pullers inched up and heaved. In this way, pullers 1, 2 and 3 would effectively disguise the upcoming heave being thrown by the remaining 15 pullers. The risk to this approach was that only 15 pullers would throw the heave against 18 members of the opposing team. The benefit was that the opponent would not know the heave was coming. The '86 team won the Pull quite easily that year, perhaps due in part to our new strategy."

--Lee Veldhoff '86; Arlington Heights, Ill.

"I was a Morale Girl for the '88 Pull team for 1984 and 1985. I want to say that this experience of camaraderie and competition was wonderful! I enjoyed it so much and had encouraged others to participate when I was on campus and after I graduated."

--Robin L. Kasten '88 Wilson; Gettysburg, Pa.

"During my freshman and sophomore years, I had the honor of being the '89 anchor. As a coach, I was able to develop important organizational skills and tight friendships which are still important to me today. The Pull remains one of my most memorable experiences at Hope College."

--David A. Baird '89; Novi, Mich.

"There is no way that anybody can just get on a rope and pull for three hours. I'm convinced that it's physically impossible. The only way to do it is to go beyond what you ever think you can do."

--Gary Kunzi '89; Zeeland, Mich.; news from Hope College, October, 1988

"My favorite Pull memory was meeting the man, who is now my husband. I remember this guy came up to my dorm room in Gilmore and said, 'Hey, you're my morale girl.' He handed me his Pull shirt, came in for a few minutes, and then left. I was so excited about making the team, that I forgot to ask him what his real name was. I knew him only as Mathias.

"The first couple of days of practice were awkward. Here I am working one-on-one with this guy, who I did not know. I would sit on his stomach during sit-ups, I desperately tried to think of something to talk about, and I continually pumped him full of encouragement. All of this and still only knowing this puller as Mathias. I knew nothing about him, for he was quiet and a bit on the shy side, so I thought. Little did I know.

"The day of the Pull had arrived. All the hard work and dedication was soon going to pay off. Matt and I had the honor to be in Pit #1. This was a very exciting place for us to be. In Pit #1 is where our relationship began. I recall reminding Matt, 'After the Pull, I will give you a back rub, pizza and beer.' Matt would laugh when I continued to tell him this throughout the event.

"The Pull was over and we had won that sophomore year. I was so excited about winning, that I gave Matt a kiss never even realizing what I had done. The look on his face is one that I will never forget. Pull has given Matt and me memories that will last a lifetime. For this tradition at Hope is where I met the most important person in my life, my best friend and husband, Matthew (Revenge of Mathias) Okma."

--Tamara Persson '93 Okma; Holland, Mich.

"It's an incredible tradition worthy of celebrating."

--Mary Boelkins '96; Kalamazoo, Mich.

"Pull was an amazing experience to be a part of--I look forward to the 100th year celebration!!"

--Courtney Ward '97; Albion, Mich.

"My freshman year something happened that I'll never forget... and neither will my morale girl, Julie Hoving. It was the end of the second Saturday practice and we had been on the rope for several hours in the woods and I was anxiously awaiting the end of this brutal day. The sky was overcast and I thought it might rain and end practice sooner, and so I was anticipating the feeling of rain drops. Then I felt one. On my upper lip. It felt so good to know that relief would soon be upon me and I moved my tongue up to my lip to taste the sweet rain.

"It didn't taste like fresh water at all! In fact, it was quite gritty and warm. I soon realized what had actually happened and as I screamed to my morale girl to wipe my face off, she couldn't help but laugh and tell all the coaches to come over and look at the bird dropping on my face. I spent the rest of practice spitting, and some how not noticing the pain of being on the rope in pit #16 that afternoon."

--Chris Potter '98; Mount Prospect, Ill.

"One of the most important and incredible things about Pull is the sense of family that you develop with the people that you do it with. It's that sense of family and that sense of teamwork and also what you learn about yourself--that sense of your endurance.

"[The Pull] is so unique and it's one of the things that make Hope College the school that it is."

--Amy Strassburger '98; Alto, Mich.

"I remember the end of one of the last days of practice during my freshman year. We were doing squat-thrusts, and I had our anchor on my back. He was the heaviest man on the team, and I had to squat low with his weight on my back, then straighten my legs and lift him back up. After 60 thrusts or so, my legs simply couldn't hold him anymore. He dropped to the ground, but I desperately tried many times to get him back up. The coaches and other pullers watched me as I struggled. Finally, Kim, a coach, shouted, "He's got a big dude on his back! Look at him, though, he's got heart! If you guys have half the heart Mike does during the Pull, we're gonna win this thing hands down!" It was an incredible experience, to be made a positive example because of my effort. That's my favorite pull memory.

--Michael Thelen '98; Mason, Mich.