WEEKLY Q&A INTERVIEW WITH NMAA EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR SALLY MARQUEZ AUGUST 10, 2020
New Mexico Activities Association Executive Director Sally Marquez answers questions regarding the return of athletics and activities. Here is this week’s interview.
Since releasing guidelines and the change to the calendar, there has been a lot of talk about athletics, but there are many questions also regarding activities. First off, what kind of restrictions are there when it comes to activities?
We had a meeting with the activities council last week and anything they can do virtually is fine. So, what restrictions are there? It’s that face to face meeting. Our activities council is doing a great job making sure they are engaging with their students virtually during this time.
Will activities have state competitions? What will that look like?
They are. When you talk to the leaders of the activities, they are making state championships and competitions virtually this year. When school begins now and early September, there’s going to be some competitions virtually. They are going to be very active.
Can students participate in activities during zero hour or after school?
They can participate in virtual activities throughout the day, it depends on each school district with what they are going to do. Will they allow the teach to have their normal classes, the elective courses, or can they do them zero hour after school? I encourage all schools, superintendents, activities directors and sponsors, get your students engaged now, even when we are in remote learning because our activities world is up and running.
Band and choir are considered high risk when it comes to COVID-19. Will those students be able to compete and participate? Where does that stand?
Band and choir are a little bit different. Our New Mexico music educators, they are doing a great job to see what are safe practices. The National Federation last week did their second release of a study they are doing to find out how to do music instruments, wind instruments, singing, one-act play, how to make that safe. Our music educators association is leading the way for New Mexico and they have many guidelines out. I encourage all our music educators to make sure you go to their website and see their guidelines.
With all the changes in the athletic calendar, I’m sure transferring has come up in some households. What are the rules in place when it comes to transferring and COVID-19?
We haven’t switched any rules when it comes to transferring. If there’s a situation that needs to take place, we have a hardship committee to look at those scenarios. But as far as transfer rules, our transfer guidelines are solid, they are in place and nothing changes. So, a student athlete is not going to be able to go from one school to the other because of COVID-19. Right now, we see a lot of kids wondering what they are going to do virtually. Do they go to home school virtually? Do they go to the school virtually? Our rules will stay intact when it comes to transfer guidelines.
Last week you mentioned a possible virtual weightlifting competition to help keep students engaged during the fall. What will that look like? Is it open to boys and girls?
I met with our football coaches and our wrestling coaches last week, just trying to get the excitement out there. I’m asking those coaches, please, let’s do something virtually when it comes to powerlifting and weightlifting, and I need their help. Everybody is very receptive to it. Yes, we are going to have powerlifting and weightlifting this fall. It is open to boys and girls. We are going to have 12 weight classes for boys, and hopefully 12 weight classes for girls, we’ll have to see where that participation is. We are going to do this virtually. It is something for the student athletes to get engaged this fall since we do not have football, soccer and some of the other sports starting until after January. We can do this safely and in the weight room virtually.
Has there been any change to the “dead period” or are programs still prohibited from practicing from the first day of school until September 28th?
I haven’t announced anything. Last week we talked about the dead period starting now, when school starts, until September 28th. I am looking at releasing that dead period, maybe right after Labor Day, or if I can get approval from the Public Education Department, let’s make it local autonomy, let’s make the schools decide if they want their student athletes to come back. When I say the dead period, and if they are able to come back and work out prior to September 28th, it is still going to be under the summer guidelines. There are going to be restrictions and it is just going to be conditioning, but at least our coaches are going to be able to work with their students.
Has there been any updates in the wearing of masks? Will student athletes have to wear masks when practicing and competing?
Yes, we are still in mask wearing. The update that has occurred is that the Public Education Department updated their return to school guidelines. Prior, when you exercised in PE, you did not have to wear a mask. They just hanged that where it is mask wearing even in exercise and PE. At this point, we are still mask wearing in all sports and practice, and that includes cross country.
Lastly, as schools are now returning to learning this month, where do we stand with the return to fall sports? Hopeful was a word you’ve used before, are you still as hopeful?
I’m very hopeful. We moved soccer and football and we have released our calendar. We backed up until October 5th cross country and fall golf, but I am very hopeful we are able to get those in. If you look around the nation, people are starting to shift football and soccer. Up in Colorado, they are already running cross country and they are starting golf and tennis and some of those sports. I am very hopeful that we are going to be able to have golf and cross country and I am very optimistic about volleyball. We may be wearing masks, but we can make this work. Like I’ve said before, we are going to have all sports in 2020-2021. Where that is going to be, we do not know. But we are excited because our coaches and our athletic directors have the schedules for cross country, they have the schedules for golf and they have the schedules for volleyball. Right now, we are looking forward to it and we’re excited. As the school year gets going, our athletes need to remember that we are going to play again New Mexico.