Outside the big green colonial home at 53 Mechanic St. a large, fluffy dog sits on the side porch by the door. In the yard, a group of guys toss a lacrosse ball among a layer of Busch Lite beer cans, every few minutes one more person joins them. This scene has become commonplace here for nearly a decade.
The four-bedroom-home has been deemed “Mechanic” to the rest of the student body, but members of the Castleton University men’s lacrosse team call it theirs. It has slowly become what the team calls the “Lax house.”
Over the past six years, the house has been passed down from generation to generation of the team. The first team members to officially sign the lease to the home did so in 2011. Castleton alum and former team member Sam Bailey was one of the first residents of the house and lived there for one year before studying abroad in Australia.
“We originally just liked the location because it was in walking distance of the school. If I remember, only one of us had a car, so it just made sense,” Bailey said. “We had no idea it was going to stay in the team, but I’m not surprised it has. It was a place where everyone wanted to hang out.”
Bailey’s teammates, Kenny Bournoufe, Ryan Cave and Phil Patterson, stayed in the house for the last two years of their off-campus lives, during which the term “we are heading to Mechanic” started to become common among other team members.
As their time at Castleton drew to a close, the next generation started the move in, and they left behind the memories of their former teammates.
Still sitting in the den is a large, black oval table that was first brought in by Patterson. Since then, the table has stayed in the same place, slowly being littered with little messages and funny jokes about past and present teammates. The old messages have slowly been scratched away over the years, leaving small-discolored marks among the hundreds of stickers. The stickers that cover nearly the entire table-top show the life of the team outside of lacrosse. Almost every ski mountain in Vermont is represented, along with many skiing, snowboarding and skateboarding companies.
There’s also fair amount of praise to some of the Vermont craft breweries including Otter Creek and Long Trail among others.
On the wall behind it, there is a dartboard with holes everywhere except the actual board. The living room is full of posters and a large Grateful Dead tapestry that has remained year after year. The most notable piece of art in the house is a painting of Mike Ditka in his Chicago Bears sweater that was done by former team member Austin Titus, who made it his freshman year. It sits above the couches watching you like the Mona Lisa as you walk by. The guys keep it up due to its “awesomeness,” says Frackleton.
The five couches that sit in the living room are arranged in a half circle around the walls giving more room to fit more people for big occasions like the Super Bowl. With two 50-plus-inch TV’s in the living room, it makes for an optimal viewing area for any game.
The house has grown in character over the years, slowly becoming a focal point for the rest of the team members, not just the residents. Senior Nick Bruch has lived in the house for three years and said he has seen the special meaning of Mechanic grow through his time there.
“It has become an overall home for everybody on the squad,” he said. “Anybody is welcome to come by here and just hang out and make themselves at home — whether we are here or not.”
That atmosphere is what Bruch and his roommates Micky Prozinski, Sam Siegel, and Sam Frackleton hope to keep. A home away from home is the easiest way to describe it, they said. Frackleton moved into Mechanic this past year after two years on campus, but he can easily chat about the impact the house had on him.
“As a freshman, all the leaders of the team lived here so it seemed like a place to go,” he said. “It’s not like other houses on campus, cause you know the leaders have the best interests of the team in mind. It’s a safe place to be a ‘college student’ for the first time because you’re around people you trust.”
Senior Drew Wood, who resides at another house on Mechanic Street, agreed with his teammate.
“You come and meet the older guys, and they help you get through that transition of leaving home for the first time cause they have been through it,” Wood said. “It is really a judgment-free zone. You are always around your teammates, you really meet your best friends here.”
That is one of the greatest parts about the house; no matter who enters, they are welcomed with a resounding “yo” and offered a spot on one of the couches. Most weekends, those couches are filled with the sleeping bodies of team members who crashed there the night before.
The sense of family the house has shows in the comradery between the players on the field. Since the house has been part of the team, team members have gone to the North Atlantic Conference championship every year, capturing three titles in the process.
Head coach Bo McDougall believes the house plays a huge role on his team. Over spring breaks, “Mechanic” is home to a team dinner at least twice during those weeks, he said. He will buy a couple of vats of baked ziti or lasagna, as well as some salads and drop them at Mechanic and he knows the whole team will be there.
“It’s great to know where my players are most of the time they aren’t on campus,” said McDougall. “I think the best part about the house is that it gives the boys a place to go. Maybe they had a rough night and need a place to stay or they are up over the summer working lacrosse camp, I know they have a couch to sleep on.”
To Prozinski, the house is the core of the team’s out-of-lacrosse life, he said. It is located just far enough off campus to be away from everyone while at the same time being close enough to go anywhere you want. With its proximity to campus, it has become a bit of a hopping place for others on the occasional weekend. Over the past few years, they have slowly cleaned up the basement area to make it far less terrifying to anyone who had to go down there.
“It was hit or miss if you made it all the way down the steps,” said junior Sam Siegel with a laugh.
The current residents of the house have high expectations for keeping it within the team.
“Hopefully it stays as long as possible, but if we ever did move I hope the atmosphere stays the same,” Bruch said.
Team members say the house builds more and more character as the team grows in size. This year, the team has the largest roster ever with 37 members. The more people who join the team, the more people are able to feel how special this little colonial home can be.
“I hope it stays with the team forever ¾ or till it burns down,” team mmber Drew Wood said.