The Anna varsity girls basketball program is in familiar territory, though it is a trend that the athletic director is looking to break: searching for a new head basketball coach.

For the fifth time in as many years and the sixth time in eight years, the Lady Coyotes will start the season with a new leader on the bench after girls athletic coordinator and head basketball coach Greg Gay officially tendered his resignation on Tuesday morning to accept a position in Ponder.

Gay was hired last March as the first girls coordinator in school history and had lofty goals coming after a successful stint in Bullard. Gay led the girls basketball team to the playoffs for just the second time in two decades and, under his leadership, three of the four girls team sports made it to the playoffs — volleyball, basketball and soccer.

"I am grateful for the opportunity provided to me by Anna ISD," Gay said. "We had a great year in our girls athletic program which will hopefully propel them to even bigger and better accomplishments in the years to come. I wish the girls nothing but the best as they continue to pursue their dreams."

The resignation leaves newly-promoted Athletic Director Jason Heath searching to fill a very important hole in a very short time period. Heath was recently awarded the AD position, promoted from boys coordinator, after Rhett Box was reassigned to the alternative education campus in Anna.

"As we begin the process to look for the next girls basketball coach and girls coordinator it is very important to me that we find someone willing to come in and invest not just a year but 10 years into the program and these girls," Heath said. "We have seen a lot of good things from this program, and we want to continue the success that the girls had last year as we continue to move forward."

Heath said that the successful candidate will be a coach who is dedicated to building the program from the middle school level up so that players are not learning new plays and schemes each year but are able to use the things they learned in the previous grade and build upon them.

The most recent coaching roller coaster started in 2006 when Anna hired Marlin Johnston, who finished several games under .500 and left after one season. In 2007, Michael Franks was hired to be the head coach and he was able to hold the position until 2009 when he was abruptly reassigned within the district, stripped of his coaching duties and replaced half way through the season.

Hoot Jones, Franks’ assistant, took over and finished the 2009 season. He was the head coach for the 2010 season when he led the basketball program to its first playoff appearance in 22 years. The next year, Ted Mackey assumed the role, and after a difficult rebuilding season he moved on to Paris ISD. Mackey was replaced by Gay.

"It says a lot about the girls that we have here at the program to be able to adjust and adapt to the coaching changes over the last several years," Heath said. "I am excited about the girls that we have here and the ones that will be coming up through the ranks in the next few years. Whoever comes in here has a lot to work with, and we are excited about the future of the girls’ teams."

Changes at the top are not the only items on Heath’s agenda with four additional coaching positions officially opening up this week. Boys assistant coach Ryan Hamilton resigned to relocate to Pottsboro, and middle school coaches Kevin and Emily Evans also resigned. Carla Gay, Greg Gay’s wife, was a middle school coach as well and resigned along with her husband.