Their Cup Runneth Over

Eliot House roommates have launched a historic bid for the IM championship

When Stephen J. Robbins ’05 first telephoned future roommate Paul F. Gilligan ’05 the summer before freshman year, they established priorities right away: “So, you play a lot of IMs, right?”  

Roommates in Holworthy and teammates on the field, Robbins and Gilligan made it their goal, so to speak, to win the Yard Bucket, the first-year version of the Straus Cup. After Holworthy beat out Massachusetts Hall, the pair moved on form the Yard to the river. Now it’s their mission to remedy Eliot House’s mediocre performance in intramural (IM) sports.

Proudly sporting their Eliot House Crew shirts, Robbins and Gilligan describe their quest to win the Straus Cup—the coveted trophy that goes to the house with the most IM sports points at the end of the year.

For most IM events, points are awarded based on participation and performance, so involvement is as crucial as performance. Last fall, when the boys first began playing for Eliot House, “no one really cared,” says Robbins. “But then we went from fifth to third place after the winter and people got behind it. This year people have been excited the whole year through, which is key.”

If the Eliot House facebook sitting on their coffee table is any indication, the dynamic duo is working hard to spark house involvement. Robbins says he combs the dining hall looking for last-minute participants. “There is begging, even some tears,” he jokes.

Though it’s hard to convince people to choose frisbee over problem sets, the roommates don’t see the dilemma. “In the end, when we see people from Holworthy, we say ‘Do you remember winning the Yard Bucket? That was great’, not ‘Do you remember writing that paper?’”

Robbins and Gilligan have been practicing as they preach, playing nearly five hours of IM sports a day. Gilligan describes the typical day as hectic, starting with an hour and a half of crew practice in the morning, classes, a softball game for an hour and maybe a volleyball game. “I hope my teachers have mercy on me,” he says.

Their fever is spreading. Last semester the Eliot House Committee awarded the IM Athlete of the Week grant so the two could give ten dollar John Harvard’s or Pinocchio’s gift certificates to the player who has made a significant impact.

“People are really proud that we’ve done well this year, and we have built [IM Athlete of the Week] into the budget,” says HoCo co-chair Anna R. Himmelrich ’05. For his part, Robbins is glad to give his IM athletes recognition, “at least within the house.”

But Eliot’s top rival, Cabot House, has a long history of recognizing its IM athletes—and a history of taking home the illustrious Straus Cup. “[Intramurals] are a house spirit thing,” says Cabot IM representative Naomi R. Cohen ’04.

Cabot has won top honors eight of the past nine years, and has no intention of losing this year, says Cohen, who considers Eliot’s scant sixty-point lead no threat to Cabot. The crew tournament alone is worth 100 points.

However, Eliot House is putting up a fight, starting with this week’s crew races. “Crew is going to determine the Straus Cup in the end,” says Robbins.

For the first time, Eliot has a full woman’s B-boat for crew (in addition to Men’s A and B, and a Women’s A-boat).

Even the administration is getting involved—assistant to the co-masters Susan G. Weltman is planning on rowing in Eliot’s women’s B-boat. Weltman says, “Every time the Straus cup came up, we kept talking about needing a B-boat, so I said okay, I’ll row. It kinda just evolved.”

Now all they need is the Straus Cup.