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New Mexico is all set to ‘play again’

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New Mexico Athletics Association executive director Sally Marquez speaks to a group of athletic directors during a 2019 event in Albuquerque. (Submitted Photo)

It has been since March that sports have been played. We are four days — and one governor’s press conference — away from practicing, beginning on Oct. 5. Games will be played on Oct. 10.

With any luck, this may be the last ‘We’ll play again New Mexico’ weekly update. Here is the weekly press conference between J.P. Murrieta and New Mexico Activities Association executive director Sally Marquez.

J.P. Murrieta: When the fall sports — volleyball, cross country, and golf begin next week — are the athletes required to wear masks?

Sally Marquez: “That answer is a big Yes. It is 100% mask-wearing. The governor has not changed her orders when it comes to exercise, so we will follow the governor’s orders and these kids are exercising, therefore it is mask-wearing.”

Murrieta: We talk about mask-wearing for the athletes and coaches, what about officials? Will they be required to wear masks?

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Marquez: “The officials will have masks on and they will use electronic whistles. It’s going to be different for everybody, but we are going to play again. It is mask-wearing, it’s not ideal, but we are playing.”

Murrieta: We know many students are struggling with remote learning. How much of a concern is scholastic eligibility?

Marquez: “It is a concern. The last six-week grading period just happened. The nine-week grading period is going to happen in October and at this point, they have to have a 2.0 grade-point average with no Fs. We’ve been looking at that. I’ve been talking to a lot of coaches and athletic directors and I will be talking to our board of directors, but at this point, it is a concern. Everybody is looking to let’s play, but we need to look at our scholastics and the classroom. I know remote learning is difficult for some, but grades are going to matter when it comes to scholastic eligibility.”

Murrieta: If the official practice can begin for volleyball, cross country, and golf on October 5th, when can competitions and games begin?

Marquez: “We have a rule of five days of practice before games, so our schedule will begin on October 10th. That Saturday you will see games. We’ve talked to officials and we talked to coaches, this year because we have a smaller window to play we are not going to have those scrimmages or that long pre-season practice time. Games will begin right away. So, officials have to be ready too. We have to be ready to go on October 10th.”

Murrieta: What does the October 5th date mean for all the other sports like football, basketball, soccer and wrestling?

Marquez: “The other sports will remain in the 9:1 pods, mask-wearing, limited equipment, a lot of sanitation, the weight room will be at 25%, so nothing is going to change for the other sports. For cross country, volleyball and golf we will move forward into the season.”

Murrieta: Lastly, as of today we are one week away from the start of the return of fall sports. What is your message to the athletes, coaches and parents?

Marquez: “It is not going to be ideal, but we’ve been talking about this since March. When they shut down spring sports back in March, all the way our message has been ‘we are going to play again.’ It is exciting. Whenever we have the first cross country meet or first volleyball game, I am going to be so excited because we’ve been telling these kids from day one that we are going to play again. That is our goal. We have one more week until we’re going to play again. Unless the governor comes down with some words that we are not going to be able to, because of the COVID cases in the state of New Mexico, we are going to play again. What I want to say to parents and kids, keep dreaming, keep staying positive, we have one more week and we will play again New Mexico.”