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Nunes retires as a trailblazer for women
Nunes retires
Shawna Nunes guided Ceres High’s varsity girls basketball program to 365 victories, one section championship, six league titles and 15 playoff berths in 18 years. - photo by Dale Butler

Longtime Ceres High School employee Shawna Nunes has retired.

Nunes, 56, filled the position of athletic director at her alma mater for the past eight years.

She handed her keys to John Bussard, her successor, on June 17.

“I’m going to miss going to work every day and interacting with students, teachers and staff,” said Nunes, who also taught two P.E. classes. “I never got tired of the job.”  

Nunes’ crowning achievement as an administrator was winning the Norm MacKenzie Rookie Athletic Director of the Year Award during the 2013-14 school year.

“Being A.D. is a full-time, year-round job,” she said. “It’s a feeling of contentment knowing I made a positive impact. The most rewarding part is seeing kids move on and become successful.”

“Everybody has a different (leadership) style,” Nunes added. “I’m a very blunt person. I’m straight to the point and move on. I learned a lot about diplomacy from the two of them (Glenn Driskell and Phil de la Porte) and how they handled situations when they were athletic directors. They almost always had great advice.”

Nunes worked for Ceres High School for 30 years.

“I’ll never stop being a Bulldog."
Shawna Nunes

“I’ll never stop being a Bulldog,” she said.

Nunes received numerous awards throughout her coaching career with the Bulldogs’ varsity girls basketball program.

She was selected Sac-Joaquin Section Model Coach of the Year in 2004-05.

She completed her 18th and final season of coaching in 2010-11. Nunes, with assistance from de la Porte, led the Bulldogs to a 365-142 overall record, one section championship, six league titles and 15 playoff berths in 18 years.

“When I first started coaching, you didn’t see girls teams full-court press on defense,” she said. “I changed that at Ceres. We played very aggressively.”

Two of Nunes’ teams (1998-99, 2004-05) were inducted into the Bulldog Hall of Fame in February of 2018.

The majority of players for both of those squads attended the event.

“They were part of a group that meant something to them,” Nunes said. “To know I played a part in creating that is fantastic.”

Nunes graduated from Ceres High School in 1981. She earned nine varsity letters, including four in track and field, two in basketball and volleyball, and one in cross country. She was named the school’s top female athlete her senior year.

Nunes’ older brother Jeff (class of 1979) and daughters Elizabeth (2011) and Callie (2017) also attended CHS.

Nunes’ mother Isabel McKay also worked as a secretary at the high school.

“It’s like a second home,” Shawna said. “I basically grew up there. My first real memory being on campus, I was 11 or 12. That was way back in the day. I had to take summer school classes. My mom made me take a sewing and cooking class.”

A lifelong Ceres resident, Nunes was voted 2010 Ceres Chamber of Commerce Volunteer of the Year.

“The biggest reason I decided to retire is my daughter (Callie) is playing college softball,” she said. “It will be nice not having to worry about what’s going on at the school when I’m at her games. Even when I was gone, I was still working. I was getting calls and questions. Now, I’ll be able to focus on watching her play.”

Nunes should be remembered as a pioneer. She filled key positions in male-dominated fields.

“Very seldom did I see another female head coach,” she said. “All the coaches around here were all male. There were things I couldn’t do. I couldn’t have the same demeanor. I couldn’t stand and yell. Over time, I earned the respect of the officials. I showed my players you didn’t have to give up being a wife or mother to be a coach. You could do it all. It didn’t occur to me I was a trailblazer.”

Shawna Nunes had a positive impact on countless student-athletes while filling the positions of athletic director and varsity girls basketball head coach at Ceres High School. - photo by Dale Butler