WEEKLY Q&A INTERVIEW WITH NMAA EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR SALLY MARQUEZ AUGUST 24, 2020
New Mexico Activities Association Executive Director Sally Marquez answers many questions regarding the return of athletics and activities for the upcoming school year. Here is this week’s interview.
The state’s largest school district recently announced they would continue online learning through the entire first semester. If a school district decides on remote learning the whole semester, can the students still participate in athletics and activities?
That is a local school district decision. We have 165 high schools and 200 middle schools. There may be some school districts that are 100 percent remote learning and decide that they do not want to play sports, or do any activities for that matter. But we are still going to move forward. For example, with Albuquerque Public Schools, if they decide they are not going to play sports, that’s 13 high schools, we have 165 so we’re going to service the other 152 in our sports and our activities this school year.
The NMAA announced last week there is no dead period. The superintendents voted for local autonomy when it comes to off-season workouts under summer guidelines. What about sports like football, soccer, basketball and wrestling. Can they practice?
Under the Governor’s orders, those four sports are contact sports, and yes they are high risk sports. At this point, under Governor’s orders, we are not able to practice in basketball, wrestling, football and soccer. Conditioning can take place, but as far as practicing those four sports we are not able to do at this time.
Can student athletes still use the weightroom?
They sure can, at 25% capacity. You’re still in your 5:1 pods, but yes, kids can get in the weightrooms. Just like they do in the private gyms, they can do that at school also.
We’ve talked about it before but it bears repeating, What are the rules when it comes to scholastic eligibility? What grading periods are we looking at?
I think the easiest thing for student athletes and parents to understand is that if they are playing a fall sport during this fall, we’re talking golf, cross country and volleyball, they need to make sure their marking periods, whether it’s six weeks or nine weeks, they need to make sure they have a 2.0 and no Fs during the first semester in those marking periods.For all the other sports that are starting after January, kids, be eligible at the first semester. Those grades are going to determine what you’re going to be able to do from January to June. That’s the easiest way to look at it. Even easier to say is just make sure you have your grades in order because they do count.
As we approach the start of off-season workouts with summer guidelines, what is the requirements when it comes to physicals for the student athletes?
We’re going to use the 2019-2020 physicals, however, there is a form that parents are going to fill out that if they answer yes to some of the questions that they may have to get a physical. However, for the majority of our student athletes, if you had a physical in 2019-2020, you’re going to be able to use it for the 2020-2021 school year. For those that are new to sports, they’re going to need to have a sports physical.
Are there guidelines for powerlifting yet?
There are, but we haven’t sent them out yet. We are working on them, we are tweaking them right now, we should have them to our schools by the beginning of next week. Yes, we are going to have powerlifting in our schools, it will be virtual, and so every school district will be able to participate. It’s going to be fun and exciting and something new for our kids.
Are COVID tests required for coaches?
They are not. In the beginning, I think it was May or June, the Governor’s office did want COVID tests for all coaches and all athletes. I think as time has gone on, that’s a lot of kids for testing, they realized the testing would be better if they were exposed to COVID-19. So, there are no longer requirements for coaches or the student-athletes to be tested prior to working out.
We’ve talked a lot about athletics, but what about activities? Is participation being allowed in activities?
It is. We are having so many activities going on right now virtually. That is going to continue throughout the year. Whether a student is remote learning or not, they are still able to participate in activities and we are supporting them 100% to make sure that all 26 activities are going to be able to go this school year.
Lastly, we are one week closer to returning to high school athletics. But to some athletes it still might seem like a long way off. What is your message to them?
We’ve been patient. We are now in mid-August and it is frustrating and people are getting impatient. However, the message is we are right there. We are going to start sports, we have October 5th as our starting line for fall sports. Then we have all our fall sports ready to go in January. We are getting closer and closer and inching up there in order to start. As I always say, let’s continue to be patient and let’s continue to do what we’re supposed to do. We need to get kids back in school, first and foremost. The Governor’s office and the Public Education Department understand the value of athletics and activities and what they do for kids. We need to remain positive, keep taking that one step forward and no steps backwards, because we are going to play again New Mexico.