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John Bussard to oversee Bulldogs’ athletic programs
John Bussard, 53, was named Ceres High School’s new athletic director in March. He replaces Shawna Nunes, who retired after filling the position for eight years. Bussard will begin his 12th year of employment at CHS this fall. - photo by Dale Butler

Prior to becoming Ceres High’s new athletic director, John Bussard shadowed Shawna Nunes.

Nunes, Bussard’s predecessor, retired at the end of the 2018-19 school year.

“Right after graduation, I jumped in full steam,” he said. “I made sure all the schedules were done. I helped set up fundraisers. It’s the second time I’ve been in this role. I was A.D. in Gustine for 12 years. It’s a big challenge. I’m excited about it.”

Bussard, 53, was hired in March.

Nunes, Central Valley High School Athletic Director Greg Magni and Ceres Unified School District Deputy Superintendent Denise Wickham were a part of the 14-person panel that interviewed Bussard in February.

“John is going to do fantastic,” Nunes said. “He’s got some really good ideas. He brings a unique skillset to the job. It’s not going to be a steep learning curve for him. He understands policies and procedures. He was athletic director at Gustine.”

“I think I have a lot to offer. I’m going to try to breathe some life in the athletic programs here.”
John Bussard

“I think I have a lot to offer,” Bussard added. “I’m going to try to breathe some life in the athletic programs here.”

A 1984 Hughson High School grad, Bussard has been employed by CUSD for 12 years.

He will no longer be required to teach history and physical education and coach at Ceres High.

Ceres High’s baseball program amassed an 84-31-1 overall record, participated in the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs four times and claimed two Western Athletic Conference titles under Bussard’s guidance from 2012-15. He helped lead the Bulldogs to their first league title in 20 years in 2014.

Bussard was an assistant football coach for 11 years. 

He coached the boys golf team the past two seasons.

“There’s a lot of history and tradition at Ceres High,” he said. “It’s definitely an honor to be a part of the school. I never got into coaching or teaching with the expectation of climbing the ladder.”

Bussard will oversee 19 different sports as Ceres High’s athletic director, including football, cross country, girls golf, girls tennis, girls volleyball, water polo, boys basketball, girls basketball, boys soccer, girls soccer, wrestling, baseball, boys golf, softball, swimming, boys tennis, track and field, boys volleyball and cheerleading.

 “You have to make yourself visible,” he said. “If I didn’t spread the wealth and make an impact in all of our sports, I wouldn’t be an effective A.D. One of my highest priorities is to bring some life into our football program. Our participation levels have steadily been declining. We got to think outside the box and make the sport appealing to the kids. It’s not an easy fix. We have to look at it as a three-year project. Our game attendance has not been good. I’m working on several things to bring more people in. I’m looking at lowering ticket prices and working with our booster club. We want to become relevant.”

Busssard takes a great deal of pride in following in the footsteps of Nunes, Glenn Driskell and Phil de la Porte

Nunes, Driskell and de la Porte were athletic directors at Ceres High for eight, four and 25 years, respectively.

“I’ve been working closely with the past three ones,” Bussard said. “They understand I’m my own individual. But having their input is huge. If you combine all four of us, our years of experience is massive.”

John Bussard
Athletic Director John Bussard will oversee 19 different sports as Ceres High’s athletic director. - photo by Dale Butler