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Farewell, Coach
If Ceres High School builds a new gymnasium in the future, the facility should be named in honor of Shawna Nunes.

Nunes retired last month following a successful 18-year stint as head coach of the varsity girls basketball program.

Under Shawna's guidance, the Bulldogs compiled a 364-143 record, captured one section championship, claimed six league titles, secured 15 playoff berths, won at least 20 games 10 times and surpassed the 30-win mark twice.

"Everything comes to an end at some point," said Nunes, who volunteered to coach freshman volleyball at Ceres High next year. "I accomplished every goal I wanted to."

Shawna was recognized before Ceres High's final game against crosstown-rival Central Valley on Feb. 17 at Phil de la Porte Gymnasium. She was overcome with emotion while being greeted with hugs from former players Nicole Chapman, Kassi Baker, Vanessa Morris, Shannon Donnelly, Courtne Evans, Quantelle Daniels, Heather Mazza, Krystle Brown, Jennifer Arnold, Kaylee Brown and Aimee Gunzenhauser.

"They all came back," Nunes said. "That was the nicest thing. To me, there's no greater compliment."

Mazza, Brown and Arnold played for Ceres High's first-ever section championship team. The 2004-05 Bulldogs beat Vacaville 57-46 in the Division-II title game and finished the year with a 25-7 record.

Morris, a 1996 Ceres High grad, had a memorable four-year varsity career with the Bulldogs. She played for Nunes for three seasons.

Vanessa averaged 28.9 points per game while leading Ceres High to a 31-1 overall record, undefeated Central California Conference campaign (16-0) and Division-II semifinal playoff appearance as a senior.

"I was always looking for ways to get better and Shawna and (assistant coach) Phil de la Porte were always there to support me," said Morris, who earned a scholarship to Oregon State. "I attribute my success to my coaches and teammates."

Chapman, a 1990 Ceres High grad and Central Valley High School's assistant principal, played for Nunes during her junior and senior years. Shawna was the team's assistant coach.

"She was the one that did all of the coaching and motivated us," Nicole said. "It wasn't just all about basketball. Academics and community service were also important. She's had an impact on many lives. People support things she does because she's a good person. She's so positive. She believes in you and will encourage you. I look up to her."

Nunes announced her plans to retire during practice leading up to the Ceres High-Central Valley contest.

"I was surprised," said Lili Jaimes, a fourth-year varsity player. "She had a long, successful run. It was an honor to play for her. She put a lot of time and effort into us. She always had faith in us. I have nothing but thank yous and gratitude."

Shawna took over the girls basketball program in 1993-94. She replaced Pierce Butler, who led the Bulldogs to six league titles in 13 years. Phil de la Porte, Ceres High's former athletic director, supported Nunes' hiring.

"She had been in the program and looked like she could be a good coach," he said "She was a great athlete."

Nunes received numerous awards throughout her coaching career. Her crowning achievement was being named Sac-Joaquin Section Model Coach of the Year in 2004-05.

Shawna continued Ceres High's winning tradition. The Bulldogs had their string of consecutive playoff appearances snapped at 14 seasons in 2007-08.

Ceres High returned to the postseason the following year.

Nunes graduated from Ceres High in 1981. The nine varsity sport letter winner competed in volleyball, basketball and track. She was voted outstanding athlete during her senior year.

Shawna's eldest daughter Elizabeth suited up for the Bulldogs the last two seasons. Younger sister Callie, 12, attends Paradise Elementary. She plays multiple sports, including travel softball.

"I won't have to miss a lot of her stuff anymore," Nunes said.