For the past 15 years, Jim Tessmer has been working behind the scenes of nearly every Mercer Athletics event.
Mercer University’s longtime athletic event coordinator makes sure all visiting teams and officials are taken care of for sporting events held in the University Center and ensures all athletic events are properly coordinated.
Tessmer, who has worked in the Macon sports community for over 30 years, recently was honored for his service, receiving the first Bobby Pope Service to Sports Award from the Macon Sports Hall of Fame.
Pope, the late Mercer Athletics director who served the Bears for three decades, hired Tessmer in 2006 for the position he holds now.
“I asked him why he hired me,” Tessmer recalled, “and he says, ‘Because you’re not moving anywhere. You’re gonna be here. … I’m tired of hiring people and a year later they leave.’”
That longevity has served Tessmer well. Visiting teams and officials get to know him, and he gets to know them, making the process run more smoothly than if everyone was starting from scratch.
“You make friends that way and even with the referees and the umpires and officials,” he said. “We all know what we’re doing. We’ve been there and done that.”
Tessmer got into sports team management when he was an economics student at Quinnipiac College, now Quinnipiac University, in Connecticut.
“I was a three-sport person in college,” he said. “I did baseball stats. I was a basketball manager, and I did soccer.”
He said he enjoyed the camaraderie of working with the players. Back in the 1970s, college sports weren’t the powerhouse they are now, and he didn’t have much help on the job.
“That was a whole different time back then, when you had to do it and you did it all yourself,” he said.
But there weren’t as many moving parts either.
“You didn’t have 45 sets of uniforms. You didn’t have the extra stuff they have now. You barely had one set of uniforms,” he said. “So it was a lot less work to do to get the job done because there’s more stuff now.
“Athletes don’t realize how nice they’ve got it now because there’s so much stuff out there.”
After college, Tessmer primarily worked in minor league baseball. He moved down South in 1987 to work with the Macon Pirates, later serving the Macon Braves for more than a decade before coming to Mercer.
Prior to his current position, he kept score for Bears’ basketball games, something he continues to do today. He also assists with public address announcing for softball, baseball and lacrosse and helps with concessions at soccer, volleyball and baseball games.
For the past three summers, some of Tessmer’s teenaged children have joined him on campus working the summer baseball camps. He and his wife, Melissa, have adopted five children in all, four of whom were adopted together as a family.
“Too many families are broken up across America,” he said. “Until you go through the adoption process, you have no idea how many folks are available.”
Tessmer said he enjoys being at Mercer, where everyone works together and understands the need to wear many hats to get the job done.
“The best part of my job is the satisfaction with the teams and officials knowing that we do a good job for them because they know they’re going to get a certain standard here every time,” he said.