BENDIGO Spirit has opted for continuity by reappointing head-coach Tracy York for a further two years. The Spirit announced the signing on Wednesday morning, leaving the club well-placed to tackle the looming WNBL free agency period with vigour. York, who took over the coaching reins from former head-coach Simon Pritchard in 2019, has led the Spirit for the past two seasons. The Spirit - Victoria's only regional WNBL club - finished the 2020 hub season with a 0-13 record But just as she insisted back in December at the end of a whirlwind 28-day season, York was again adamant her team could not be judged on its winless season. "When you looked at it, it wasn't necessarily an even playing field with the teams, so we need to look at who we are going to retain, who we are going to recruit and to keep developing the culture of the club and build on it moving forward," York said. "(Competing financially against other teams) is always going to be there, but in terms of a regional team, we just have to see who is available and who fits our culture. "I feel we had some good players (in 2020), but without the imports last year, it hurt us and that may change this year. "I guess we just have to be strategic with the budget we have got and be smart with how we go about that." After a season like no other in 2020, York is looking forward to a more settled pre-season. "I have never had a season like that, We only had 13 games and we went straight into the hub and had literally only a couple of weeks to train together. It didn't augur well," she said. "We had a group that we thought we could work with and develop for six months and obviously that wasn't how the season rolled out. "We had a lot of close games and others that weren't close, so we've just got to look a who was good for our group and then who is potentially available to build and want to play in Bendigo and develop that team for the future. "We got a lot of comments throughout the hub about how hard the girls played and how good their attitudes were and how positive they were. "Any lesser teams wouldn't have come out of it that way, so I think it showed the character of the people we had and how we stayed together and how we held ourselves together. "For me, one (player), and she's only young, Piper Dunlop just showed us. She's a Bendigo kid and she was fantastic. "She came in as a young girl and probably came out as a young woman. She's certainly one of the ones we look at as being the future of the club in years to come." That will be music to the ears of Spirit general manager Ben Harvey, who has long preached the importance of pathways for talented juniors from Bendigo and other regions of the state. "We've got a strong focus on providing a pathway from regional Victoria to the second-best competition in the world, and beyond," he said. "We want to see the next Kristi Harrower, Gabe Richards, Kelly Wilson, Tessa Lavey, or Piper Dunlop come through and show the world what Bendigo can do. York is only the club's third-ever coach since its inception in 2007. She will essentially start her third season at the helm with a clean slate with no players currently contracted to the Spirit. On the subject of player retention, obvious priorities would be Carley Ernst, who has won the club's the most valuable player award the last two seasons, and Opals guard Tessa Lavey, who has spent five of her 12 seasons in the league in Bendigo, including the last two and also the Spirit's 2013-14 championship year. The WNBL free agency period is not due to open until the end of March. Armed with a new two-year contract - and after a season in which she was only able to step foot in Bendigo for the first time in six months, about a month before the team's season opener against Southside Flyers in Queensland - York can't wait to get started on the Spirit's 2021-22 campaign. "I'm very excited, it's great to continue what we started," she said. "It was almost, in other words, a lost year last year because of COVID, so it's great just to be able to get started again and hopefully have something like a bit more normal for the season." READ MORE: Proud York says Spirit shouldn't be judged on winless WNBL season Piper Dunlop reflects on a whirlwind first season in the WNBL Have you signed up to the Bendigo Advertiser's daily newsletter and breaking news emails? You can register below and make sure you are up to date with everything that's happening in central Victoria.