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Gym named for Phil de la Porte
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renames gym On Thursday night, thunderous applause broke out after the Ceres School Board approved a recommendation to rename the Ceres High big gymnasium in honor of Phil de la Porte, teacher, athletic director and coach.

De la Porte, 60, will be retiring as a full-time teacher at the end of the school year.

"It's a nice honor but it's embarrassing," de la Porte said.

Added CUSD Superintendent Walt Hanline: "I think it's well earned and fitting. He's had a real impact on kids."

A unanimous vote was cast after former students, current colleagues and members of the community addressed the board of trustees.

"He's a father figure and mentor to many people," said Ceres High varsity girls basketball coach Shawna Nunes.

"He's been committed to the district for 30 years," said assistant varsity boys basketball coach Glenn Driskell.

"He's definitely deserving of this honor," said Jeff Burrow, a 1995 Ceres High graduate, who starred on the varsity boys basketball team for four years.

"The biggest reason I have never left Ceres High is because of Phil," said varsity football coach Bret Durossette. Durossette graduated from Ceres High in 1986.

Board member Corinne Jones also spoke fondly of de la Porte. Jones graduated from Ceres High in 1979. She was one of de la Porte's top students. Her husband, Troy, played basketball for de la Porte for two years. Phil has coached their daughter, Heather, the last two seasons.

"Mr. de la Porte is an amazing man," Corinne said. "He's been an inspiration, role model and friend."

Butch Mendonca met Phil during his first year teaching in 1977. Mendonca used to coach varsity football team. He's currently in charge of the boys golf program.

"He's probably the fairest person I have ever met," Mendonca said. "He's very honest.

"People don't understand how much he has done for this community."

Rick Goblirsch graduated from Ceres High in 1975. He played basketball for de la Porte as a junior and senior.

"I was one of his first players," Goblirsch said. "He was a great coach. He was fun to play for."

De la Porte started his career at Ceres High in 1974-75. He's been teaching U.S. History for 31 years.

De la Porte has helped coach the varsity girls basketball team the past seven years. He also coached boys basketball and tennis. He dedicated 10 years of his life to traveling softball.

"There's never been a day I didn't want to come to work," Phil said.

De la Porte will meet with Ceres High principal Bob Palous at the end of the school year to discuss future employment. His last day is on June 17.

"I may come back as the athletic director," Phil said. "I'm going to continue to coach. I'll do that until I die." - By DALE BUTLER / Staff reporter of the Ceres (Calif.) Courier