The Franklin & Marshall scholar-athlete profile features a Diplomat who personifies what it means to be an NCAA student-athlete. The F&M campus is filled with dedicated, passionate, and talented student-athletes who have interesting stories to tell – and it's our goal to let those stories be heard. To be chosen as a scholar-athlete of the month, F&M student-athletes must demonstrate academic excellence, leadership, and community service, or have a noteworthy story that stretches beyond the realm of athletic competition.
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Many student-athletes come to Franklin & Marshall after glittering varsity careers in high school, but Tamir Shemesh was a "walk-on" with the rowing team.
Not only had he not starred in the sport, he had never participated. But the affable senior made the most of his opportunity, spending four years on the varsity squad as coxswain.
"Getting involved in rowing was one of my best decisions at F&M," said Shemesh, from Irvine, Calif. "We're all committed to the team, and we're best of friends. There's a lot of pain and effort in this sport, and we've got to work together on the water and in training. It's been a great activity for me."
"We have boats of varying sizes," said Shemesh. "Our coxed boat are 4+ (four rowers and a cox) and 8+ (eight rowers and a cox). We also have uncoxed pairs and a single. We train throughout the week, and often there are regattas on Saturday."
The Diplomats regularly face other teams on waterways from Philadelphia to Boston, competing in regattas that feature a wide range of schools and typically include Division I boats.
The Diplomats started a rowing club in 1986 and the team trains on the Susquehanna River near Wrightsville. It is located about 20 miles from campus, so a bus filled with student-athletes leaves F&M at 5:30 a.m.
Shemesh weighs about 130 pounds, in a sport where the coxswain should be as light as possible. "I'm dead weight for the rowers," he commented. As the point person among large, muscular athletes, he is part manager and part on-water inspiration. The men's team, which numbers more than 25, has a first varsity 8 and a second varsity 8, as well as a novice 4.
In an 8-person shell, the coxswain sits in the stern facing the rowers. He is responsible for steering the boat, and for coordinating the power and rhythm of the rowers. He often calls out cadence so that the rowers are in sync. In the case of the Diplomats, the coxswain is responsible, as well, for implementing the training regimen.
"I am not a morning person," admits Shemesh, "but I have to be out there at 5:30 a.m. as the team gets on the bus. We've become close, and this year we could register the fastest time of any F&M shell."
"Tamir has been a valuable member of the team," said rowing coach Kendall Mulligan. "As a four-year senior, he's demonstrated a great level of dedication to the team and program at large. His spirit and commitment have helped the squad stay motivated, dedicated, and to grow. Tamir is never without words or a light-hearted phrase to keep the team engaged. He may be small in stature, but he is certainly big in personality."
The sport takes enormous commitment, in part because it is an all-year activity that is as strenuous as any. There are competitions in the fall and spring. In the winter, athletes train to stay in top shape in preparation for the exhausting races.
But Shemesh's life is not dominated by the rowing team.
His major is joint studies—in his case, government and economics.
The dedicated student completed a paper in which data was used to study the social, cultural, and political climate surrounding LGBT rights in the neighboring South American countries of Uruguay and Paraguay. Shemesh was able to present his findings at the International Studies Association Northeast Conference in Providence, R.I., attended by professors and graduate students throughout the international community.
He has also been active in music. A piano student since the age of five, he has taken piano lessons for credit since his freshman year.
He has had several on-campus jobs.
One has been in the Office of Admission, where he has answered phones and carried out data-entry functions. Another has been with the athletic communications department, where he served as an on-air broadcaster for various contests, operated cameras and switchboard equipment, and assisted with other video broadcast functions.
However, Shemesh hasn't allowed work to dominate his college experience either. In a less serious endeavor, he and a friend created a group called "Crapapella." It is composed of students who are not particularly good singers, but enjoy music and performing. They sang the national anthem at a pre-game ceremony of the Barnstormers, Lancaster's minor league baseball team.
His father is Israeli, and his mother is Romanian. The native Californian said he came East to look for colleges and is pleased he chose F&M.
"I wanted a small liberal arts college, and there aren't many in California," said Shemesh. "F&M offered so much, and I have been able to get a great education while being active in things I love."
Shemesh, who is a member of the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity, said he might seek employment in the Washington, D.C., area following graduation before considering an MBA program or law school.