Men of Iberville: What you put in you get out

Zachary Junda
Roderick Sims

Walk the halls of Plaquemine High School and you'll find one member of the faculty that stands out among them all. Roderick Sims, or Coach Rock as he's more affectionately referred to, is a para professional at Plaquemine High, his alma mater. A Plaquemine native through and through, Sims made his way into teaching through coaching basketball at the school.

"I started off when I was 23," Sims said. "I volunteered for three or four years coaching and I guess I did well, so I got hired on to coach basketball."

As a para, Coach Rock lends a hand to students at Plaquemine High who need extra credit. He may also pull a student out if there's a behavior issue. He lends his time getting to the root of the issue. Sometimes, a student could simply be having a bad day, and that's where Sims comes in and assists the best he can.

Away from the classroom, Sims is heavily active in getting members of the Plaquemine community to come out to local events. This dates all the way back to when he was a student at Plaquemine High, where Sims started a production company called Showtime Entertainment as a senior. Sims was Plaquemine High's drum major and through Showtime Entertainment, Sims puts on events throughout the city.

"I put on a lot of events, whether it was concerts or special events," Sims said. "I started deejaying and it took me that route."

Sims did it all as a student. He was a quarterback and a free safety on the football team, a two-guard for the basketball team, a percussionist that taught himself how to play trombone for the band, and the school's class president his freshman through junior years of school. He selflessly passed the honor his senior year to a friend he felt was more deserving, but Sims and his knack for planning events would be the one to get his graduating class to bond and grow closer.

"I think our class was the best as far as getting together and doing class activities," Sims said. "Whether it was going to the bowling alley or having crawfish boils, I was always the guy that would set it up and have everybody participate."

Sims didn't stop planning events once he graduated. In fact, it only grew stronger. Sims is Plaquemine's de facto event planner, and he can gather a crowd like no other.

"I'm on staff for what we call the Plaquemine High Alumni All Black Affair," Sims said. "We do that every September, the week after Labor Day, and it's the biggest event in Plaquemine."

The event is so large (sometimes as many as 1,800 people come out), that Sims and the other board members have to limit availability. The event is held at the Carl F. Grant Civic Center, and the building constantly maxes out its capacity.

Community events like the Plaquemine High Alumni All Black Affair brings Plaquemine together because it's a wonderful chance to see old faces. But, like other small towns in Louisiana, these events are so important to the community because, as Sims admits, "there's not much for us to do." But if there's an event to be held in the city, "nine times out of ten I'm involved," Sims said.

What Plaquemine may lack in the size of the community the city compensates by being so unified.

"We have a real tight community," Sims said. "We show a lot of support, especially now that we have businesses that guys are putting on their own."

In addition to putting on events for the adult community of Plaquemine, Sims also spearheads events for the city's youth. Sims is known to put on as many as four camps a year for the children of Plaquemine and largely does so with his own money.

"Thanksgiving break, Easter break, and at least one or two weeks in the summer we do camps," Sims said. "I'll rent out a venue with my own money and let the kids come. We'll feed them two meals and a snack a day. They love it. We have crawfish boils, we have water slides, and they love it. Every time they see me they ask, 'Coach Rock when's the next camp?'"

Roderick Sims is many things. He's a former basketball player that grew up loving former Charlotte Hornets shooting guard Larry Johnson. He's an event producer who started out sticking fliers under windshield wipers to market gigs Showtime Entertainment was involved in. He's a self-described shoe freak that can't count how many pairs he has, but he is absolutely enamored with Air Jordan's. But most importantly he is Plaquemine through and through, and he's someone that is constantly trying to better the place he calls home.

"I want them to remember me as a guy that did whatever they can to help the next person," Sims said. "I never wanted to see another person struggle if I can help them in any way. I went through so much growing up. Not having a dad, struggling to eat and pay bills, it was rough for me coming up. If I can teach the next kid how to not go that route, if I save one life a year, that matters."