Dear Rudy:

My name is Serge Bouffon, and I’m the coach of the Williams College Men’s Combat Juggling Team. I caught your last prep school match against Groton, and let me be plain: you are a truly gifted combat juggler, a “once-in-a-century” talent. Your ability to keep your own pins in the air while knocking those of your opponents out of play was mesmerizing. In this, the real Sport of Kings, you are a Crown Prince, and I want you on my squad next year.

My réputation doubtless precedes me. I came up through the ranks in the Belgian leagues. For a time, your father, Bart “De Hamer” Stroink, and I were competitors. He juggled for Genk, while I was with Louvain-la-Neuve. Maybe he mentioned me? We had a rather infamous collision in which I was penalized first for tripping him, and then again for standing by while all of his clubs fell on his head. Many have criticized the referee’s decision over the years. But no matter; it’s all water under the proverbial Belgian pont/brug.

Sadly, though, that encounter caused chronic bursitis in my left elbow and my career was over. Your father, of course, went on to become a legend in the European combat juggling arena. And now I see the Indian club doesn’t fall from the tree. I know you are a three-sport athlete, and that you’re probably getting recruitment letters from Bates’ Chess Boxing team, and from Sam Fleming over at Amherst’s Bicycle Soccer squad. But you and I both know that such endeavors, while admirable, can in no way compare to the sheer thrill and beauty of combat juggling. I am confident, Rudy, that you’ll follow your true passion: keeping your own set of juggling clubs aloft while sneakily knocking the other guys’ clubs out of their hands.

I believe Williams is the kind of place where a wealthy boarding school student with European heritage like yourself can really shine. Our sports teams are renowned, as are our winters! But the weather won’t matter, because I can already tell you’ll be spending all your free time in the weight room getting ripped for the spring juggling season. Your dedication to the craft shines through, Rudy, every second you’re out there twirling your Renegades and plotting against your competitors. Sheer poetry.

It’s true that we’re only a Division III school, but the competition is fierce in the New England Small College Athletic Conference. You’ll test yourself against combat juggling powerhouses like Bowdoin, Colby, and our arch-rivals, Tufts (we narrowly lost the conference final to the Jumbos last year). But with you on our team, I think we’ll win the conference and make the playoffs. No “redshirt freshman” for you, Rudy. You’ll get plenty of juggling time right away, and I may even be able to swing a small scholarship for you. I want to also assure you that last year’s unpleasantness with Students for Social Change over the use of the term “Indian clubs” has been resolved and that the team is focused solely on one thing—taking down those mediocre pin-flippers at Connecticut College!

We combat juggle hard here, but we also play hard. It’s a great group of guys. In fact, our Romanian captain, Florin Popescu, remembers you from juggling summer camp in Lugano! “A diver, just like his old man!” is how he put it, and we laughed. If you come to Williams, I promise a lot of laughs like that. I can also help you post-graduation. There is talk of a semi-pro combat juggling league forming in New England. I think America is the greatest sport ever invented, don’t you? I also have strong ties to the Circus School of Brussels, which is where I ended up after my forced retirement. I can always find you a place there if you're interested in pursuing graduate studies in this noble calling.

Rudy, please consider joining the Ephs here at Williams. Come visit us on campus in the next few weeks! I’ll show you our state-of-the-art juggling facilities and equipment, including our latest acquisitions: clubs made from special lightweight polymers designed by NASA. They manage to combine the perfect grip, balanced weight, and unparalleled cleanliness. Even after the fierce round of combat juggling, there's not so much as a trace of a fingerprint on them. And feel free to bring your father along, too. It sure would be good to see The Hammer again, face-to-face.

Best,

Serge

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