Diagnosed with cystic fibrosis not long after he was born in 1981, former Ceres High School head coach and multi-sport athlete Brian de la Porte never let the disease that causes damage to the lungs, digestive system and other organs in the body ruin his zest for life.
“I never thought about what my life expectancy was,” said de la Porte, who was told he would only live into his teens or early-20s. “My parents always taught me you don’t feel sorry for yourself. You meet the adversity head on and fight. It’s a part of me but not who I am.”
De la Porte, who will celebrate his 40th birthday and get married in April, is passionate about teaching, coaching and governing.
A 1999 graduate of Ceres High, de la Porte coached boys basketball, tennis and football at his alma mater for a combined 23 seasons.
“I’ve been a part of Ceres Unified School District since the fall of 1987—almost four decades,” said de la Porte, who’s worked as a teacher in Delhi for the past six years. “I started out (as a student) in the first grade at Carroll Fowler. It’s a special place for me.”
De la Porte was sworn in as a member of the Ceres School Board in December.
He’ll be serving in a one-time five-year seat as the district realigns terms so that elections will be held during gubernatorial or presidential elections. The action is being taken because of a change in state law designed to increase voter turnout.
“I view it as being a part of a team,” de la Porte said. “Although we have our own voices and ideas, for us to be successful, we have to work together. My No. 1 priority will always be to make sure our students receive the best education in the classroom possible. As a district, we do a great job of providing that. That’s a testament to the teachers and leaders of the district.”
“I’d really love to see Central Valley High School completed,” he added. “I think their students and staff deserve to have a stadium. That’s important.”
De la Porte replaced Jim Kinard in Trustee Area 1.
De la Porte collected 376 votes, or 65.96 percent, to Kinard’s 194 votes, or 34.94 percent, during the Nov. 5 general election.
“Jim Kinard did a lot of great things for our district,” de la Porte said. “He taught in Ceres forever. He was a board member for a long time. A gentleman like him deserves respect.”
When asked if he would run for re-election once his term expires, de la Porte said: “It’s definitely a possibility. I’ll make that decision when I come to that bridge. I’m focused on the present now.”
Three positive things happened to de la Porte during the year of the coronavirus.
“In March, a new drug came out,” he said. “It (Trikafta) reverses the effects of cystic fibrosis in the lungs. It allows your lungs to function like a normal person. It was life-changing. I can go run three miles and not have shortness of breath. My cough is almost non-existent. I got engaged in July. I finished my master’s in education in December. I’m blessed, very fortunate and very thankful.”
De la Porte coached boys basketball at Ceres High School for 13 seasons (2000-2013). The Bulldogs amassed a 61-72 record, participated in the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs twice and won one WAC title during de la Porte’s five-year stint at the varsity level.
De la Porte served as head coach of Ceres High’s boys tennis program for six seasons. The Bulldogs claimed a share of the Valley Oak League championship with a 13-1 record and advanced to the playoffs for the third time in four years in 2010. Ceres High finally beat conference co-champion Manteca, ending a seven-match losing streak that spanned three-plus seasons.
Delhi High School’s varsity boys basketball program secured back-to-back postseason appearances during de la Porte’s five-year tenure as head coach (2015-2020).
He guided Patterson High School’s boys hoops program for two years (2013-15). The Tigers posted a 31-25 record and participated in the playoffs twice.
De la Porte plans to serve as an assistant boys basketball coach on Kyle McKim’s staff at Beyer High School this school year.
“I still have the desire and passion to run a program,” de la Porte said. “Being a former athlete, it’s an extension of competition. Being a part of the atmosphere, it’s a fun experience. I love working with kids.”
De la Porte attended Ceres schools from 1987 to 1999. He was a student at Carroll Fowler Elementary, Mae Hensley Jr. High and Ceres High School.
His mother, the late Cassandra “Sandy” de la Porte and dad Phil were longtime educators.
Phil taught U.S. History for over 30 years and served as athletic director for 25 years at Ceres High School. He also coached basketball and tennis.
De la Porte’s older sister, Danielle, teaches middle-school science.
“Ceres Unified School District has been a part of my life for almost my entire life,” he said. “I was raised around education. I spent most of my upbringing at Ceres High School running around the gym and football field. It’s helped shape me into who I am.”