In Hingham High School’s now-famous “Slash the Trash” competition this past season, the boys’ soccer team, the girls’ soccer team, and the field hockey team took the top three spots, respectively.  All three teams were extremely successful on the playing field, as well, surviving deep into their state tournaments. Coincidental? Not quite. Many of the traits that help a team win on the field translate to the cafeteria.


The end of each lunch represents the biggest challenge for a team that strives to excel in the “Slash the Trash” competition. In the frenzied melée following the bell, students rushing past the trash barrels, often carelessly discard their recyclables and/or compostables, sometimes by accident. Catching these infractions requires a high level of awareness but also teamwork. One person cannot watch over all three barrels at once, so everyone has to do his or her part, and communication reigns paramount. Everyone must work together to ensure that nothing gets put in the wrong location. Keeping this in mind, teams that succeed in “Slash the Trash” share several traits in common: team chemistry, organization, and a desire to win.

Back in September, the girls’ soccer team set the bar high with only six “penalty points” (a measure of how many recyclable or compostable items found in the trash) at the end of lunch. While such a stellar showing is unprecedented at the school, the performance didn’t come as a surprise to many:  the girls would go on to win the state championship, maintaining an undefeated record for the entire season. Strong leadership, competitiveness, and a winner’s mentality carried the team to a historic season.

Not to be outdone, the field hockey team responded with an extraordinary performance in late October. They recorded only four “penalty points,” a new record, and a truly remarkable achievement, considering that the student body of the school numbers close to twelve hundred. Susan Petrie, the head coach of the field hockey team, explained the factors that could have contributed to the team’s success: “The field hockey team this year was a very close knit crew, and they also are extremely competitive, both on the field and off.” She also added that the team’s “aggressive style of play on the field led to some aggressive recycling in the ‘Slash the Trash’ competition!”

Finally, the boys’ soccer team took the stage, and stunned the school, recording just three penalty points. Out on the soccer field, the boys had struggled throughout the early stages of the season, and many observers had started to doubt the team, citing the season as a rebuilding year. However, the team made up for its youth and inexperience with team chemistry and strong leadership from its seniors and captains. From the near-mythical “bench brothers” to the starting freshman midfielder, the team epitomized “chemistry.” This chemistry and accompanying high level of communication combined with strong leadership from the seniors (starting with the captains), lifted the team to victory in the school’s most prestigious recycling and composting competition. TJ Winter, the team’s captain, cited team chemistry, along with its well-documented will to win, as the most important factors in the victory. Winter also stayed throughout all three lunches to oversee the operation, organizing and continuing to stoke the metaphorical fire of motivation, which gave the team a sense of continuity. Coleman Chase, a veteran senior midfielder and free-kick specialist, added that persistence, enthusiasm, and passion for the environment also contributed to the team’s cafeteria triumph.

The boys’ team would like to thank Crow Point Pizzeria for the delicious buffalo chicken calzones that they provided as a prize. For several years now, Crow Point has donated a team luncheon (really, a team feast!) to reward the winning “Slash the Trash” team. This prize, donated by one of the student body’s favorite restaurants, motivates all participating teams to take the competition seriously.

The ultimate goal, of course, is to maintain a high level of recycling even without student athletes “guarding” the barrels.  For now, though, Hingham student athletes will continue to take pride in the contributions they’re making to the environment, and to school spirit. We hope the winter and spring participants in the “Slash the Trash” competition can pick up where the fall teams left off, making the 2014-2015 school year one to remember, not just on the playing fields, but even in the cafeteria!


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