It’s just an average school morning, teachers slowly trickling into the parking lot, spots filling up slowly. One by one, cars show up. It’s slow, just one student at a time at first, and then two, and eventually there’s a line backed up all the way to the traffic lights. They’re all decked out in winter jackets and huge snow boots, the uniform every morning for players, young and old.
It’s hockey season again, except this is a different type of game, it’s the DHS Trail of Tears Hockey League.
No rules, not exceptions, no excuses.
No one is quite sure of who named the league, legend says that Bobby Orr himself came down and bestowed the nickname on the path.
Coach, founder of the League, and teacher, Johnny Kennedy, has been an integral part of starting the games. Coach Kennedy said, “Bobby Orr was a favorite of mine growing up. Everybody wanted to play like him and be a Bruin. All the OFDs (Originally From Dorchester) down here on the South Shore will be wicked excited about the League.”
Senior Rachel T. said, “This all wouldn’t be possible without the amazing plow job done by the school. The sheet of ice is so consistently thick there’s no way it’ll melt before the season’s over!”
Senior Sarah C. was unable to participate in the league, but still went to many of the games to cheer on her friends. “It’s a great way for kids to bond with the community. It really puts a pep in my step, and makes this horrid winter and this miserable walk more manageable,” said Sarah. Toward the end of the season, Sarah also managed to secure the position of Zamboni driver, which was a huge part in maintaining the integrity of the ice on the Trail. Sarah said, “It’s been a lifelong dream, and the League has given me the opportunity to finally fulfill it.”
Students all across the parking lot were lacing up skates, grabbing sticks, or getting their coffees and settling in to watch the games. Underclassmen weren’t as involved in the games this year, but sophomore Siobhan T. looks forward to next year. “A lot of my friends played this year,” Siobhan T. said, “Next year I’m looking to make a good team.”
The weather has affected all the sports at Duxbury this year, and hockey has been no exception. “It’s been a tough season, the snow has been a huge problem, but we can usually clear it off and reach bare ice before the rest of the schools gets here,” said captain of her team senior Mackenzie B. “We’re hoping to get one or two more games in, but the thaw is really killing us at this point, we’re all praying for one last snowstorm before spring.”
Some students see the league as a problem because it takes up the whole path on the way to school, but collisions with flying pucks quickly silenced them. Most students however, believe that it is a great way to spend the morning. “Everyone’s been pretty invested in the league,” says sophomore Rachel K, “It’s made the Trail a joy to walk in the morning.”
Athletic Director, Thom Holdgate, is excited to hear that the League has had such a great reception by students. Holdgate said, ““I’m just really glad to have another sport in which we can dominate the area. I can already hear the complaints from the other AD’s on how great Duxbury is.”
“Walking through the hockey games has increased the amount of injuries on the Trail exponentially,” says Rachel T. “Before I was just worried about slipping on the ice, now I have to think about ducking from flying pucks and players. It’s really been great.”
Senior Geraldine C. has been a huge part of this past season. “I’ve been probably the strongest player out there, right on par with Marissa F. tied with 100 points, but she’s getting pretty busy with the spring season and lacrosse. But we still have ice so I’m gonna keep going strong.”
On playing aggressively, Geraldine said, “I fight for the puck like I fight for my life. As long as there’s ice on the ground, and a stick in my hand I’ll be there.”
Siobhan has faced the hardship of being in between Geraldine and a stray puck, and the damage done to her face was irreparable. So far there have been many injuries, but no fatalities. The league is hoping to keep this record for at least another week.
Backpacks have also been a valuable resource for the teams, giving ammunition to angry spectators, and even more protection to the players. Catherine said, “I’ve seen a few bags thrown in my day, and only once did it take out a freshman.” Geraldine said, “It’s only when there’s laptops in the bags that it’s a problem. That’s when we get teeth knocked out, but usually it’s not a big deal.”
Coach Johnny K has big hopes for the future, and not only in season records. Hoping to get school participation and fan sections increasing, Kennedy suggested, “[Everyone knows] how the Red Sox have Sweet Caroline? Maybe the new league could have the Dropkick Murphy’s Rocky Road to Dublin.”
UPDATE: The late-season fire drill in 24 degree weather allowed for the final game, with the upset victory by the Dux Dux over MA Laxers