Seniors Take Part in Iconic Wellesley Tradition

April 27, 2015
Wellesley seniors compete in the 120th Hooprolling competition.

Sophia Garcia '15 has won this year's Hooprolling competition, a beloved Wellesley tradition that stretches back 120 years. Garcia, an environmental studies major from Bakersfield, Calif., has won a place in the Wellesley history books as well as the promise of achieving success, however she defines it. She was honored shortly after winning with a ceremonial toss into Lake Waban. 

For more than a century, the senior class has gathered early one morning near the end of the academic year dressed in their Commencement gowns and class colors. At a signal, the seniors race down Tupelo Lane, pushing their hoops and vying for the honor of being thrown into Lake Waban. How the College defines success, which is promised to the winner, has changed throughout the decades. Originally the winner was said to be the first to marry, later the first to become a CEO, and now is said to be the first to achieve success however they define it.

Little sisters play a key role in making sure seniors have the best chance of winning the race down Tupelo Lane. They secure an optimal racing position for their "big" by claiming a spot hours before the race. Some, including the younger members of Wellesley's historic Shakespeare Society, traditionally pitch a tent the night before the hoops hit the tarmac. “I camped out the spring of my first year for my senior sonnet sisters, Justine Portmann ['12] and Kat Chen ['12],” recalls society member Katie Suchyta ’15. “I left our production of Macbeth and spent the whole night on Tupelo Lane. I got hit by sprinklers around 2 a.m., but Justine came in fourth, so it was worth it." This year, two of Suchyta's own littles camped out to save her a spot. 

Likewise, Garcia credits her Hooprolling success to the support of her Wellesley family. She inherited her hoop, called "The Ring of Fire," from her big, Lina Torres '13; Garcia's own little, Catherine Baltazar '16, camped out on Tupelo Lane to make sure she had the best chance of winning. "To cross the finish line knowing that my little and big have supported me throughout my Wellesley career will always make my heart feel full," said Garcia. After commencement, Garcia will join environmental consulting company Quad Knopf as part of the Geographic Information Systems team, in her hometown of Bakersfield. While there, she will work on projects with agricultural companies in the area, using her well-honed data and statistical skills as she pursues her passion for food justice.

Congratulations, Sophia, and to all the members of the class of 2015!

-Jocelyn Wong '15 contributed to this story.