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Sports seasons to return in October

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On Wednesday, the day after New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham shut down summer workouts on Tuesday, Sally Marquez, New Mexico Activities Association executive director, and her staff have put together a solution to include all sports and let the schools, teams and seniors have their seasons.

In an interview Wednesday with J.P. Murrieta , Marquez spoke about what she expects the school year and sports to look like going forward. At the end of the interview see the updates on schedules for all sports.

J.P. Murrieta: “Can those teams continue to practice even though they have been moved to the spring?”

Sally Marquez: “The governor’s new orders are saying that football, soccer and wrestling are not able to participate. And then I found out on Tuesday night that they did include basketball in those governor orders, as well. At this point, we now have four sports that are not able to participate in summer workouts.”

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JP: “Four of those sports that can continue, like lacrosse, volleyball, were currently in a five-to-one ratio with those pods right now. How long will that last?”

SM: “I think the governor’s orders right now are until the end of July. We are planning five to one, minimal equipment use, a lot of sanitation, social distancing and mask-wearing. All of that will continue throughout the summer.”

JP: “As you have mentioned, this is a fluid situation. Do coaches need to have a COVID-19 test while working out with athletes?”

SM: “The Governor’s Office called me and said that we were not going to do those tests unless we need to do contact tracing, somebody has tested positive and we need to go … that’s when we will do the testing.”

JP: “Do athletes need to wear a mask when working out?”

SM: “Yes. The governor’s orders are mask-wearing when exercising. I know that has been difficult, but that even goes for cross country. All athletes, including adults during exercise, need to wear masks.”

JP: “What sports will be played assuming school starts on time?”

SM: “I think that’s the question, what’s on time? Right now, our schools are working to get into the hybrid model for the August, mid-August start to school. There are some schools that may start remote and some might not even go to school half the time until after Labor Day. So when we say sports starting on time, we are looking at cross country and fall golf would start Sept. 14 with state championships wrapping up Nov. 13-14.”

JP: “Will those sports be able to begin — if those sports begin — if they start in a hybrid model? If you have some people doing in-person learning and some students online, can those teams workout when they don’t have in-person school?”

SM: “Sure. That is a school district decision. What we are looking at is if the Public Education Department says, ‘We are in a hybrid model or we are in school full-time, then we will have sports.’ Now if the Public Education Department says, ‘that we are 100% remote learning like we did in March, April and May, to end the school year,’ then we will not be in sports. At this time, the Public Education Department has told the schools they can be in a hybrid model, whatever that looks like for the school, and that would be a school decision. Since we would start the school year in a hybrid model at this point, we will be able to participate in sports.”

JP: “What kind of changes need to be made for cross country?”

SM: “We have to look at mass gatherings, and I’m not calling cross country mass gatherings, but there are a lot of kids at a typical cross-country meet. We’re going to have to look at shrinking the size of teams that can go to one location and run. We will also have to look at staggered times. You’re on the bus, you warm up and you run and then you leave. It is not going to be hanging around and watching all of the races anymore. We will put those guidelines out to the cross-country coaches. I have been in contact with them and they are aware there will be some changes.”

JP: “What about volleyball? How does that look for the upcoming season and when will that start?”

SM: “We are going to go ahead and shift volleyball to a start date of Oct. 5, through Dec. 7-12. We will have a 10-week season, we are looking at a 10-week season for all of the sports. We are looking at the spring sports being a little bit longer, like 12 weeks. Volleyball will be shifted to an October start date.”

JP: “Basketball and swimming and diving won’t be until January, is that correct?”

SM: “That is correct. We’re looking at a start date of Jan. 4 through March 20. All sports will be January through June, except we will do fall gold and we will do the championship will still be in the spring. We will have cross country when school starts and we will have volleyball, October through December. Other than that, all the sports will start in January and that includes basketball, swimming and diving.”

JP: “What about the contact sports that will be postponed from the fall? When do you anticipate football and soccer starting?”

SM: “We are looking at Feb. 22-May 8. Again, a 10-week time period. Now football, we are looking at all these overlaps. Football fits right in there pretty well. There is a concern with soccer, because of the Club Soccer World. I am in constant contact right now with Club Soccer and leaders in trying to figure out how we can make this work for those student-athletes that do play soccer can play Club Soccer and how to make it work.”

JP: “What about the schedule for Spirit?”

SM: “Spirit is a little bit different. We usually have competition and we will still have competitions, however, it will not be mandated that they have to have three competitions in order to participate in the state championship. Our championships for spirit will still be the end of March. We will start on Sept. 14-March 26-27.”

JP: “Wrestling normally is in the winter, but now when will it begin?”

SM: “Wrestling is probably the hardest sport if you think about it, the one-on-one contact in wrestling. In order to make sure we have a really strong wrestling season, we have shifted that back even past January. Wrestling will start April 5-through June 12, we are trying to make sure we have no issues when it comes to contact with wrestling.”

JP: “What does it look like for baseball, softball, tennis and track?”

SM: “Because of the overlap and that’s the hard thing to do is figure out the overlap. We sent out a survey to our superintendents and asked even if graduation happens in May, can we continue to compete in spring sports through June? Over 85% of the superintendents said, ‘Yes.’ Our superintendents understand that our spring athletes didn’t get a chance to have spring sports last year. We want to do whatever we can to make sure we have a strong solid season. Because of the overlap and we have to shift them, we will start them beginning April 5-June 26, giving them a 12-week season.”

JP: “In all of these sports, do you anticipate a shorter season or number of games and matches? Will they play just a district schedule?”

SM: “As I said, we are looking at 10 weeks per sports. We are going to be consistent across the board, and maybe 12 weeks for spring. We’re hoping for a little bit longer for spring. In that timeframe, yes. The games have decreased. It is not going to be normal, but our kids are going to be able to compete. Our goal is to have them raise that trophy up for their schools.”

JP: “What do the playoffs look like?”

SM: “It is still to be determined. One thing about the playoffs and during the season, there is not going to be any overnight travel. So, when you think about a Thursday, Friday and Saturday format, that is probably not going to happen. Maybe it will happen in March, April or May, we just have to see. At this point, we have to plan that that may not happen, that we have any student-athletes in a hotel spending the night.”

JP: “Will there be any travel restrictions during the year?”

SM: “We have told the athletic directors when we meet with them, and I’m going to meet with them Wednesday. When they make their schedule, make sure they are not spending the night. For example, if there is a football and they are far apart and they usually spend the night, meet in the middle. Find a neutral location to play that football game so you are not spending the night. So that is going to be a restriction that we go down and play and come back. We are asking the athletic directors to think of games more in their regions to accommodate no overnight travel.”

JP: “What about traditional tournaments in sports like volleyball, basketball and softball?”

SM: “Again, there goes the travel, most tournaments are Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Tournaments gather a large amount of crowds, so we are not going to be able to have tournaments this year. You know, like volleyball and the pool play and then we have a big tournament. That’s not going to happen. People need to think, you are going to go and play a team, and then you’re going to come home.”

JP: “Everyone wants to know, what about fans in the stands?”

SM: “I’m hopeful, but I have to prepare one way or the other. I need to prepare that there are not going to be fans in the stands and we need to prepare there may be fans in the stands. Again, it is fluid and we don’t know at this time. We are doing a lot of things right now, that if there are no fans in the stands, we can stream every game. If there can be fans in the stands, let’s do it in a safe way. I have talked to the state about going ticketless or temperature check when they come to a contest. When they go to an event, they have Xs on the stands that this is where they sit.”

Last word

SM: “This is plan B, that we are releasing on Wednesday. It is a good plan B, but I guarantee you we will have a plan C, D and E. Spring sports lost their spring last year. I will do anything I can to make sure they have a spring to compete this year. You will see when the guidelines come out that you will see it is subject to change. All I ask is for the athletic directors, parents, coaches and players to be flexible. If that means that a student-athlete plays two sports at once for a couple of weeks, that’s what happens. We don’t have a rule where they can’t do that. Does that mean our coaches might have to work with the Club World when it comes to soccer? that might have to happen to make sure our student-athletes get the best experience. It is not ideal, but it is workable if we work together. I ask parents to be patient and work with us and the administrators and coaches. We have a plan and we will play again in New Mexico.

2020-2021 Amended NMAA sports

calendar released

ALBUQUERQUE – In an effort to ensure students have the opportunity to participate in the sports of their choosing during the 2020-2021 school year, the NMAA has created an amended calendar that provides seasons for all 13 sports sanctioned by the Association.

The tentative dates for both the start of the official season and state championship events for each sport are listed below. Please note that these are subject to change due to the ever-evolving coronavirus pandemic.

Sports start date state championships

Cross country: Sept. 14, Nov. 13-14.

Golf (fall season): Sept. 14, June 21-22.

Volleyball: Oct. 5, Dec. 4-12.

Basketball: Jan. 4, March 1-13.

Swimming and diving: Jan. 4, March 13 and 20.

Spirit: TBD March 26-27.

Soccer: Feb. 15, April 12-17.

Football: Feb. 22, April 23-24 and 30, May 1 and 8.

Wrestling: April 5, June 7-12.

Baseball: April 5, June 21-26.

Softball: April 5, June 21-26.

Golf: (spring season) April 5, June 21-22.

Tennis: April 5, June 14-19.

Track and field: April 5, June 17-19 and 24-26.