From down and dirty to something straight out of “Dirty Dancing,” the Nykerk performance and The Pull competition could not be more different. The two events are long-standing traditions at Hope, but few individuals can claim to have been members of both teams as a result of time commitment and differing interests. While both Nykerk and The Pull require similar traits (teamwork, mental derexity, enthusiasm and drive), they could not be more contrary in their talent displays. Nykerk features an all-female cohort enacting a song, play, and oration while The Pull is a primarily male team exerting high levels of physical strength to take home the prize of tug-a-war champ. The crossover of members between the two is not unheard of but exceptionally rare.
For Caroline Daniels (’23) and Miguel Castelan-Hernandez (’23), the reasons to do both were simple. “While I was a member of The Pull team for only two weeks I wanted to be a part of the longest standing college tradition in the nation. I also believe it offers students the opportunity to bond through adversity and break barriers, both mental and physical, they didn’t even know they had,” noted Daniels. Having heard of The Pull from a teacher who is a Hope College alumni, Castelan-Hernandez embraced the grueling workouts and allowed it to set the tempo for his freshman year, saying, “The Pull was extremely intense, and probably one of the hardest physical activities I have ever done. Combined with the time commitment of classes, homework and practices, you have to have great time management skills. However, come Pull day all of the training allows you to persevere, making the pain worth the prize.”
Moving from mud pits to center stage, Miguel was happy to concede, “Morale was much less intense than The Pull. If anything, the girls who did both were busier than the boys. They had to go right into practices, and I simply enjoyed being able to brighten their day.” Daniels affirmed the workload was intense, but considered it all worthwhile, stating, “Nykerk to me was more about finding a sense of fellowship and support. I was very grateful to the coaches for giving me a role in the play (the train) that allowed me to embrace the energy and enthusiasm that I feel defines me as a person.”
When pressed about how she would encourage other students to make the sacrifices necessary to be apart of these two events, Caroline admitted, “The time for both events is exceptional and can be scary to many people. However, The Pull teaches you discipline at a time in your life -the transition to college- when you need it most. Nykerk follows this discipline with a support system of sisters, unlike any other, which is something I craved. Both offer you the chance to find a family and place of belonging while on campus.” A sentiment echoed by Miguel: “I know many people see The Pull and Nykerk as just tug-of-war or acapella, but the tradition and friendships you make are amazing. It really can’t be described with words, it is something people have to experience for themselves to truly understand.”
The nature of competition breeds animosity and frustration. However, the bonds formed in the trenches, the unity created amid a harmony, the laughs had during a scene, and the faith in one individual to convey the thoughts of the team supercede all else.