Alex Poon ’14 wins 119th hoop rolling competition

Second generation champion follows in his mother’s footsteps

By LAUREN TONTI ’14

Features Editor

Alex Poon '14, winner of 119th Annual Hoop Roll Pamela Wang '17 Staff Photographer  

Alex Poon ’14, winner of 119th Annual Hoop Roll
Pamela Wang ’17
Staff Photographer

On May 3, Alex Poon ’14 rolled his way into the history books as the winner of Wellesley’s 119th annual hoop rolling race, one of Wellesley’s longest held traditions.

Poon’s hoop rolling expertise may stem from family history. Poon’s mother, Helen Mar Poon ’82, is a former hoop rolling victor and his sister, Cathy Poon ’11, finished in second place her senior year. 

While he could be spotted perfecting his form on the racecourse the evening before the competition, Poon was practicing long before he came to Wellesley. “I remember my mom teaching me and my two older sisters how to roll hula hoops in preparation that we might find ourselves at Wellesley one day,” Poon said. “This winter break when I was at home, she and I practiced a little bit and went over different strategies. I can’t really tell you what they are, because it’s a family secret!”

No hoop rolling champion would be complete without an heirloom hoop. Poon was specially equipped for the race, rolling his sister’s hoop down Tupelo Lane. The elder Poon had written the names of all seven people in their family who have attended Wellesley. “There are blue stars around my mom’s name for winning. When I get home after graduation, I’m looking forward to putting silver stars around Cathy’s name and adding blue stars around mine,” Poon said. 

Indeed, this race has sentimental value for Poon. “The hoop is more than just a wooden circle. It symbolizes the special bond that I have with my family, and it connects all of us together. For me, winning hoop rolling is a journey from the times I practiced with my mom when I was little to the moment when I called my mom immediately after winning the race.”

Pamela Wang '17 Staff Photographer   

Pamela Wang ’17
Staff Photographer

The night before the Saturday festivities, a small but dedicated crowd of Wellesley students could be seen camped out at the hoop rolling starting gate. Some brought sleeping bags, blankets and provisions to last through the night until the 9 a.m. race. Others even pitched tents, all in the name of securing an ideal spot for a senior. Poon credits his little sibling, Caroline Kelley ’16, for his success. “My amazing Wellesley little sib camped out for me and got me a front and center spot at the starting line — crucial to my win.”

After crossing the finish line, Poon posed for a selfie with President H. Kim Bottomly. “This is actually not my first selfie with KBot,” said Poon, referencing the nickname students have affectionately bestowed upon the president. “We took one together during MarMon [Marathon Monday]. The best part is that we used her phone to take the selfie, so maybe I should ask her to text it to me. But yes, it’s a dream come true!”

Today, hoop rolling champions are promised to be the first in their class to achieve success, however they define it. When asked how he defined success, Poon replied, “Success is not measured in wealth or a job title. It’s tough to quantify success, because I feel that it’s about the journey, not the destination. Achieving success is about your character, who you are as a person and putting in the work to accomplish your goals.” 

These, the words of a true champion, resonate with the senior class preparing to embark on unique and diverse journeys. Poon,  a computer science major, plans to work in the tech industry after graduating, particularly focusing on user interface and user experience. Without a doubt, he will find success. After all, he has earned it.

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