Sport houses create community, memories

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Author: Peter Johnson

Team houses are more than just the places where current and former members of Occidental’s athletic teams live together. They are where groups of Tiger athletes have weekly wine nights, eat pre-Thanksgiving “Chicken Day” dinners, play games of knife toss and run naked laps whenever anybody loses anything of any kind. They are more than houses: They are gathering places, community centers.

One such house is “Cross House,” where the cross country team lives. The women’s team occupies the bottom floor (“Bottom House”) and the men the second floor (“Top House”).

Claire Shellem (junior) runs cross-country and lives in Cross House. She enjoys having a team gathering place to go back to at the end of the day.

“I remember going to Cross House as a first-year with my friends on the team and talking about living there with them when we were older,” Shellem said. “It was pretty crazy my first few days in Cross House living with those same friends.”

Another of these houses is the baseball team’s, affectionately referred to as “Baseball Home” by residents, according to team captain Charlie Caccamo (senior). Last year the team was not successful in securing the lease and had to relocate before returning to their original house this year.

“It is definitely very beneficial for the team, as it provides a place for the whole team to go,” Caccamo said. “I think last year did affect us, that we didn’t have a good place to go and be a team. We’re college students, we want to have fun sometimes, and having a place to go off campus, where we can do our own thing and keep each other safe.”

As with all off-campus students, the college does not assist teams in securing housing. Teams have to actively seek out their leases year after year. Generally, there are some number of juniors living in sport houses at any given time who organize the living situation for the following year, according to Caccamo.

Shellem said that Cross House had a similar difficulty as the baseball team had last year, with too few women interested living in “Bottom House,” so the men’s soccer team filled the vacancy. Shellem added that this year the women’s team moved into Bottom House once again.

According to Caccamo, even when he was not living there, Baseball Home helped shape his experience at Occidental.

“It’s a place where I met a lot of my really good friends now, when I was a freshman and sophomore, and I have a lot of memories with them in that house,” Caccamo said. “Living there now is kind of nostalgic in the first place.”

Robbie George (senior) also lives at Cross House and said he has many pleasant memories of growing closer to his friends while playing games like Catch Phrase.

“I remember looking around at all of the people on the team and thinking about how close I am to all of them,” George said. “For a while I tried to make friends off of the team and then one day I realized that I love these people and wasn’t sure why I wanted to try so hard to make other friends.”

Wilson Terrall (senior), who lives in Baseball Home, said the team holds pride in creating lasting memories.

“You think of Division I sports teams that have the houses that are actually owned by the programs, these really big fancy houses that are specifically the team’s house,” Terrall said. “I think what’s cool about our house and most of the sport houses at Oxy is that they do sort of blend in.”

Terrall also said he feels the sports houses reinforce the close feelings of community unique to Occidental, while providing an alternative space for the baseball team to form its own community.

Cross-country runner Megan Bull (senior) said the house is another expression of how tight-knit a team can become, which Occidental’s already close community reinforces.

“I think it’s a unique Oxy experience, just because the teams here are pretty small and you’re more in it because you enjoy the sport and enjoy the people you’re doing it with rather than a scholarship or because you’re extremely talented,” Bull said.

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