The Hope College Pull tug-of-war, a
103-year tradition, will be held on Saturday, Sept. 30, at 3
p.m. on the banks of the Black River (near U.S. 31 and M-
The public is invited. Admission is free.
The Pull, first held in 1898, is an annual fall
highlight at Hope. In the competition, freshman and
sophomore teams, entrenched in shallow pits on opposite
sides of the river, attempt to gain the most rope through
their strength and stamina.
Each team has 18 students on the rope as
"pullers," and another 18 acting as guides and morale
boosters, or "moralers." The freshmen are coached by the
junior class while the sophomores are instructed by the
seniors. The coaching arrangement also leads to a rivalry
between the even-year and odd-year classes.
This year's Pull will pit members of the Classes
of 2003 (sophomores) and 2004 (freshmen) against one
another. The Class of '03 will be seeking to avenge its
loss at the hands of the Class of '02 during last year's
Pull, held on Saturday, Oct. 2.
In 1977, the Pull set a record for length and
uniqueness. The freshmen and sophomores tugged for three
hours and 51 minutes before judges called a tie due to
darkness. In contrast, the shortest Pull lasted two minutes
and 40 seconds in 1956.
New rules were implemented in 1978, following the
1977 marathon, limiting the event's duration. The rules now
allow the judges to determine the winning class by measuring
the amount of rope pulled from the other team if one team
has not claimed all of the rope within three hours.
The 1999 Pull ended with such a decision, with the
sophomores winning by six feet, one inch.
Through the years, the sophomore and even-year
classes have held the edge in the win-loss column. Since
1909, the sophomores have taken 54 contests to the freshman
class's 29; the even-year/odd-year split for the same period
is 50 to 33.
There have been four draws and four cancellations