Last summer brought a whirlwind of change to the athletic programs at Anna ISD, and this year is starting to look like it will have its share of moving and shaking, as well.
Most notably will be the change at the top position, athletic director. Rhett Box took over as the district AD in August of 2010 after Keith Harris left Anna for another district.
Anna ISD announced in May that Box would be part of a positional reassignment that would move Debbie Dumas to the new Anna ISD Early Childhood Center, a kindergarten and pre-K campus, as principal, creating the need for a new principal and leader for the Disciplinary Alternative Education Program (DAEP)/Credit Recovery and Adult Education campus. Box was chosen for that position.
On Tuesday, AISD Administration announced that Jason Heath, the boys athletic coordinator and head football coach, accepted a promotion that gave him the title and responsibilities of both athletic director and head football coach.
"Mr. Box and Mr. Heath have both done an outstanding job in their current roll," AISD Assistant Superintendent Thomas O’Neal said. "We are confident they will not only maintain the great things that have been accomplished to this point, but also seek ways to continuously improve these programs for our students and community."
Box was the assistant principal at the high school and assumed the AD roll three years ago. And for the first time in district history, the AD was not also a coach of a sport. Then last summer the district hired two coordinators to help Box with the growing programs — Heath and Girls Coordinator Greg Gay.
Now, with budget cuts at the state and national level and a myriad of other factors, Anna will be again changing its philosophy regarding the direction of the athletic programs.
Box, a fixture in Anna, said that he will miss the opportunity to be as closely involved with the athletes but is looking forward to what he believes will be a great opportunity to make a difference.
"No matter who the kid is or what issue they have found themselves in you can find kernels of greatness in them," Box said. "The kids at that center need someone who believes in them and I think that I can help them find the path they need to be on and then show them how to walk it."
Box said that he was privileged to help coach the freshman girls basketball team this year when the program found itself with more participants than expected.
"Those girls were spirited, hungry and I think that they are going to do big things here in Anna," Box said. "We have had some success the last few years and anytime a team does well it makes you proud of the school and kids. There is a lot of stuff that goes into winning, and I am proud of what we have seen in recent years."
Heath believes that Anna can continue to build on that success and believes that it should be a priority to provide Anna with top-notch programs, equipment and facilities.
"I appreciate the support from the community and the school and we will look for bigger and better things to happen here for all of our athletic programs," Heath said. "We believe that our goals should be to make the playoffs — anything less than that is underachieving — and then run with that opportunity. We want to increase the amount of participants in all of our sports and make Anna a place known for their athletic program and traditions."
When Heath was hired a year ago, he spoke of the importance of doing more than developing athletes, but also developing young men and women that will be successful after high school.
"We want them all to be better off then when they came," Heath said. "We want to use athletics to help them develop characteristics to make them successful members of society. To reach a level of excellence that will bring success later on in life."
Heath already has some duties to attend to, specifically hiring coaches. There are three positions currently open and at least one more that should be official in the coming days. Girls softball coach Tressi Brown was promoted to assistant principal at Anna Middle School, Weston Bartlett is leaving to be the golf coach at Melissa High School and Scott Ritchey accepted a head football coaching position at S&S High School.