WEEKLY Q&A INTERVIEW WITH NMAA EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR SALLY MARQUEZ SEPTEMBER 14, 2020
New Mexico Activities Association Executive Director Sally Marquez answers questions about the return to athletics and activities for the 2020-2021 school year. Here is this week’s interview.
We will start with a question a lot of parents still have: will athletics and activities be allowed to operate if your district is remote all year?
That will be a school district decision. There are some school districts that are remote, there are some that are going to be in hybrid and there are some that are going to be totally in person. So, it will depend what the superintendents would like in their school districts to do with athletics and activities.
While we wait for fall sports to officially start in just a couple weeks, how can kids get involved in activities and what sort of activites are out there to stay engaged? Are all activities a go?
All activities are a go. We had a meeting on Friday with all the activities directors, all the sponsors and activity liaisons, and every activity has planned something, and the majority of them are virtual. The only ones not virtual are JROTC and bowling. At this time, the bowling alleys are not open, so we’re not able to do bowling. JROTC will do virtual competitions, they’re not going to travel, but they will be in person in 5:1 pods using their own equipment. All activities are planning to have some type of competition throughout the year.
Are middle school athletics and activities following the same guidelines?
I had that question this morning. They said, ‘You never talk about middle schools.’ The reason we don’t spell out middle school guidelines is because middle schools will follow the exact same guidelines as high schools. When we talk about the calendar, the calendar is for middle schools and high school’s athletics. They will work with the same timeframe. The only difference is when we get to the playoffs in high school, that is when the middle schools and sub varsity will stop their competitions.
Since announcing powerlifting last week, what sort of response have you been getting from schools?
That has been a wonderful response. It is so neat to see the excitement. Everybody is excited about a virtual competition. We are looking forward to powerlifting. We will start that on October 5th. We will have the virtual competitions at the beginning of each month and we will end with kind of a state championship in February. What that will look like we don’t know. We don’t know where we’re going to be at when it comes to COVID-19 and the guidelines. However, we will start powerlifting and we are hoping this week the Board of Directors will sanction it as an activity for the next school year.
With the shift in the athletics calendar, how is one athlete going to compete in two sports that may overlap?
We recently saw a tweet from Cleveland High School between two coaches. The football coach and basketball coach are going to work together so those athletes can play both sports simultaneously. If Cleveland High School, one of our largest high schools in the state, can do that then everybody can do it throughout the state of New Mexico. We have talked to coaches and athletic directors that we need to make sure all our athletes are able to play multiple sports. There’s going to be times throughout the year that there’s going to be two sports at one time, let’s make it work for the athletes so they don’t have to choose one sport over the other.
We are just a couple weeks away from the start of fall sports. What is the most important reminder for coaches and student athletes at this point?
First off, we are back in the classroom. What is a classroom right now? It is remote, however grades matter. The most important thing I think the student athletes can look at is not when are we going to start practice, but they need to look at their grades daily. These six weeks and nine weeks grades are going to count for scholastic eligibility. There will not be a clean slate at six weeks and nine weeks. Our student athletes need to get going and get their grades and make sure they have all passing grades. Secondly, we need to remember that we are in school and we are education-based athletics, but the most important part is the emotional well-being of our student athletes. We need to make sure we teach them life-long skills to deal with what’s going on right now and as we move toward beginning to start and it’s getting exciting because the time is coming, we need to remember our scholastics, emotional well-being and we can do that because we are going to play again New Mexico.