Copyright © 2021 Roswell Daily Record
Copyright © 2021 Roswell Daily Record
With less than four days until the start of teams being allowed to begin activities on June 15, Sally Marquez, New Mexico Activities Association executive director, was interviewed by NMAA’s Tyler Dunkel and shared her goals and hopes for teams to be able to play sports this fall.
RDR Sports edited the interview to let coaches, athletes and parents know what to expect. This was from Monday morning.
Tyler Dunkel: What about staggered starts?
Sally Marquez: “That one thing that our coaches need to make sure they — we cannot have mass gatherings. We cannot congregate at one time. So when coaches are having multiple pods going, I know there are some football coaches that may have five pods on the football field and three pods on another field. That’s eight pods and if you have five athletes in each pod that’s 40 kids.
“That’s too many to come to the facility at one time. We’re asking to please stagger those start and end times. Tell your kids, you get there, get to your pod and then you leave. Stagger times are very, very crucial.”
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TD: The guidelines say a coach cannot move from one pod to another. What about the kids, can they move from one pod to another?
SM: “The kids cannot change pods, once they have a pod, they need to stay there. The reason being, we need to limit the amount of exposure an athlete is exposed to. So, if we have one kid who is around four other kids and a coach and something happens (if) COVID-19 comes in, the pandemic is just isolated. We don’t have that kid going to multiple pods and exposing other kids. That is the reason for keeping kids in one pod.”
TD: COVID-19 tests need to be taken within 72 hours of the start date?
SM: “We were having coaches call and telling us that it is taking longer than 72 hours to get results back. I talked to the governor’s office and sure enough in many communities, it is taking longer (than) 72 hours. We are now telling coaches to take the COVID-19 test as close to the start date as possible in your community. In some communities, they are bringing someone in to test all coaches, which is fine. So, if you took a test in April and we’re starting June 15, you do need to take another test.”
TD: The governor has directed that the vulnerable are under the stay-at-home order. If a coach or athlete is vulnerable, can the coach or athlete still work out?
SM: “I received that question from coaches, and I’m going to put it back on the school. If you feel that coach is wanting to come to practice and able to come to practice, and there are no liability concerns, then that will be a school decision.”
TD: Are there guidelines on how to clean equipment?
SM: “There are guidelines and I’m working on it. I plan to have a document out to our athletic directors. Alcohol wipes are not good for volleyballs, there is some part of the solution between alcohol and water. We will have some guidelines out to help the schools. We are going to need to make sure the equipment is sanitized properly.”
TD: What kind of guidelines are in place, like filling up water bottles during practice?
SM: “One thing you have to be prepared for is not having a water fountain and kids coming to the water fountain touching it. That means they are touching the water fountain with their mouth, hands, we feel that each kid needs to have their own water bottle.
“When we first did the guidelines, we knew that a water bottle was not sufficient enough water. We made that suggestion to the state department that each kid has a gallon of water, but that’s not realistic. My suggestion to you is that each kid has their own water bottle and has the kid fill up their own bottle and then wipe down the place where he touched. We do need to make sure they have a place to fill up their water bottles and have water — it’s hot out there.”
TD: Since NMAA is regulating summer activities, are the coaches limited to 7 1/2 hours a week as done in the offseason?
SM: “No. They’re not. We have not talked about 7 1/2 hours. Whatever is decided at the school level, remember I have always said these are guidelines. The schools need to work within the guidelines, but that’s a school decision.”
TD: What sort of guidelines does the marching band and Junior ROTC have?
SM: “We do not regulate the marching band, but they are part of the school environment. They need to follow the same guidelines, such as equipment, 6-feet distance and pods. I would suggest the marching band and Junior ROTC because we do govern them and work within those guidelines.”
TD: What’s the difference between open gym and the June 15 date for guidelines?
SM: “This weekend, I saw some post that said open gym June 15. It was a concern because open gym is a free for all. Coaches need to really make sure they know who is showing up to the gym, when they are showing up to the gym. The kids need to be put in pods and there is some guidance. Remember, if there is three pods, there needs to be three coaches.
“When you say open gym, you don’t know who is showing up. Coaches, I suggest that you reach out to the incoming eighth- and ninth-graders and make sure you know who is showing up before they get there, that you have it organized so that you know what kid is going into what pod.
“You cannot have kids come to the gym and stand in a group and wait for a coach to say go to this pod, or go to that pod. Coaches you need to make sure you’re organized and you have it ready. When you say open gym, you could have 30-40 kids showing up at once. You cannot say it is an open gym, it needs to be organized.”
TD: We are one week away from the start of summer workouts. What are you hearing from athletic directors and coaches about being prepared?
SM: “The coaches are excited, but with the guidelines, it’s been tough. Making sure the kids are in pods and how many pods, the thermometer checks, the sanitations. I keep telling people if we do it right now and take baby steps, we are going to be able to play in August. If we don’t do it right now and show that we can do it in a safe, clean environment, then we’re not going to be able to play in August.
“I know there is frustration out there because there are club teams, there are other groups, there are parents taking seven, eight kids with equipment out and doing things on their own. I can’t control parents and I cannot control the club world. All I can say to you is, ‘You can control your parents and you can control what your athletes are doing.’
“We cannot worry about what anybody else is doing, we need to worry about what education-based athletics is doing. Ultimately, when school begins and if we show them what we can do this summer, it is going to help them realize school can begin. And when school in August, we are going to be able to play.”
Sports editor J.T. Keith can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 304, or email@example.com.