A Race for the Ages

Laurel Wills ’17 and President Paula Johnson pose inside Laurel's hooprolling hoop as Laurel holds a bouquet of flowers.

On April 24, Laurel Wills ’17 entered her name into the august annals of Hooprolling champions, holding the lead all the way down Tupelo Lane to win the 122nd annual race. Wills, a cognitive and linguistic sciences and Middle Eastern studies double major, is also a member of the Shakespeare Society’s Sonnet 55 family. (On being accepted into the Shakespeare Society, members are given a sonnet number, and all other members who share that sonnet form a multigenerational family.)

Sonnet 55 seems particularly apt, celebrating as it does a fame that will outlast the ages:

Not marble, nor the gilded monuments
Of princes, shall outlive this powerful rhyme;
But you shall shine more bright in these contents
Than unswept stone, besmear’d with sluttish time.

Wills has had her eyes on this prize for a while. It’s a Shakespeare Society tradition to camp out to get the front position at the starting line, and Wills was one of the overnight spot holders for her first three years at the College. This year, 10 of her fellow Shakes members held the plum spot—and Wills came through with the win. The hoop she rolled—inscribed with Sonnet 55’s last line, “You live in this, and dwell in lover’s eyes”—has been passed down within her sonnet family since at least 2001.

President Paula Johnson witnessed Hooprolling for the first time this spring. “It was just wonderful,” she said, hugging a very wet Wills, who had just been tossed in Lake Waban, as tradition demands.

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