USNA Volunteer Spotlight: Jerry Sims

Meet Jerry Sims. As the Middle School Theater Parent Liaison, he headed and organized volunteers for this year’s Middle School musical, "Once on this Island Jr." If you were lucky enough to score a ticket to the sold-out run of this amazing show, you have "Coach Jerry" to thank. Take a moment to get to know a bit more about him and all he's done in his time here at USN.
A question and answer session with Volunteer Coordinator Elena Goss

Q: Names of children at USN and their grades.
A: Millie '27 and Sadie '29

Q: How many years have you been involved at USN?
A: In March 2014, we got the acceptance letter for Millie to enter kindergarten, and I drove to the campus bookstore that day to buy merch for the whole family. We were very excited to become part of the USN family. That first year, I came and read to the class a couple of times and offered some basic help to class parties and such.

Q: How are you/have you been involved at USN and what were the outcomes?
A: Starting during Sadie's kindergarten year, I began coaching a soccer team of USN students through the First Presbyterian league. I coached that team through their third-grade year when the spring season was canceled due to the pandemic. Once we came out of the pandemic and were ready to start group activities again, the Class of 2029 had entered fifth grade and was eligible for school sports teams. So my time as "Coach Jerry" came to an end, but a few of the girls still call me that if they see in the hallway. It never fails to make my day.

Summer 2019 was our family's first year being involved with the Middle School musical. I volunteered just a little that year helping work the box office at Ingram. I loved getting to greet everyone as they walked in. There's always such electricity as parents, grandparents, babysitters, and teachers file in to see their favorite kiddos show off their hard work up on that stage. So a few months later, I joined the crew heading to Atlanta for the Junior Theater Festival. That was where I really saw the powerhouse that is [USNA parent volunteer] Melissa Flatt in action.

Melissa was so on top of the theater volunteer process that she had a succession plan and had trained up her replacement (not me). So Melissa had officially handed the job off when the pandemic hit and the live performance part of our theater department went dark for nearly two years. That left a hole in the theater department where parent volunteers are concerned.
With all the uncertainty leading up to this most recent performance in terms of when and where we could do the show and how many people we could safely let in the room, it was tough to know what all was needed. Parents were eager to help as soon as they knew what help was needed. And as a result, our kids got a chance to put on a great show in front of a total of nearly 600 people over the show's run.

Q: Why do you do it?
A: I didn't know anything about soccer, but I felt that I could teach the girls something about healthy competition. I hope that those girls learned a little bit about being respectful to the game and their teammates. And I hope that each of them experienced some little personal victories along the way. There were some teams out there that were older and more experienced, but I don't remember any teams that tried harder on the pitch than my Class of 2029.

With theater, I saw a different way to be on the team. The more that parents can chip in and take care of logistics and leg work, the more [MS Theater Director Bakari] King and [Technical Theater Director Jim] Manning can concentrate on the creative aspects of the show. I wasn't in theater as a kid and discovered my love of it through my girls' involvement. And like thousands of kids, when I discovered it, I felt like I found my people. Only I was 40-something when I found them. This is one way for me to be more closely involved in all of it.

Q: Would you do it again? 
A: In a heartbeat.

Q: What would you like to see change? Stay the same?
A: We need more boys involved in theater. And to that end, I hope to get more dads involved in the volunteer process.

Q: Words of wisdom? Piece of advice?
A: Sign up for something, and jump in even, if you're uncomfortable. The games and shows are that much more fun when you feel like you contributed to them, however tangentially. These kids are only in this awesome place for 13 years at most. At the end of those years, none of us will regret having spent too much time at the school pitching into these experiences.

Q: What else do you have going on in your life outside of USN?
A: I'm the IT Developer for Alana Healthcare, and I occasionally pop up in a community theater production around town.

If you would like to join extraordinary people like Jerry in volunteering for USN, click here to view opportunities and sign up.
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