WEEKLY INTERVIEW WITH NMAA EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR SALLY MARQUEZ OCTOBER 12, 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.
Since the Governor did not change the public health order, the NMAA could not proceed with competition this fall. Where are the sports volleyball and cross country being moved to on the calendar and when will that be announced?
We will look at that this week and probably announce it at the end of the week. We have to not only look at the two sports and where they fit, but we need to get with the coaches. With cross country, you’re talking about back-to-back seasons with track. That’s really difficult. We need to make sure those athletes are safe. With volleyball, you’re going to have it right in there with basketball and you might have players who are doing both sports. We also have club volleyball at the same time. It’s not going to be a quick decision, but it needs to be the right decision.
Without any competition this fall, what does that mean for all other sports like football, soccer, and others? Can they practice?
The Governor did not change any health orders, so that means we can still workout in our 9:1 pods, with mask wearing, social distancing, and a lot of skill development. So, our coaches are still able to meet with their student athletes. We just cannot have competition.
Can students still participate in powerlifting this fall?
They can because it’s virtual. The health order is no competition from team to team. We can still do powerlifting when it comes to virtual competition as long as we stay in the 9:1 pods, along with social distancing and 25% capacity in the weightroom. Within the Governor’s orders, we can make powerlifting happen.
What about spirit?
Spirit is a little bit different. Like other sports, spirit is still in 9:1 pods. One thing that is different is they cannot stunt and they still need to social distance. They can work out as long as they work with those guidelines. It’s very difficult with cheer when it comes to working out in pods, however they can do a lot of sideline cheer. I think the focus needs to be sideline cheer instead of the cheer with music where they are stunting.
If there is no athletic competition this fall, can students still participate in activities?
Nothing has changed with activities. Everything we have been doing with activities we can still do. Our activity world was planning virtual competitions, so they can still work out virtually. Our students can participate in after school activities and they can meet in 9:1 pods to practice. It’s still like athletics, we do remote learning and then go after school for those 9:1 pods and work in your activity.
Since there will be no fall athletic competition, what if a student decides to leave the state and transfer in order to compete this year and then returns next semester or even next year? What are the eligibility rules in place?
The simplest way to say it is that none of our transfer guidelines have changed. With that being said, a student cannot leave and go play football in Texas, or Arizona, or Colorado, and then come back and think they are going to play football in the February. We have a bylaw that says you have one season during the school year to play that sport. As far as transferring, we will continue all the transfer guidelines as far as moving from out-of-state to in-state, bona fide residence, nothing has changed in those areas.
With the changes to the athletic calendar where all sports are scheduled to compete in the second semester, how will that work with so many sports overlapping? Will students have to choose between sports?
We are hoping they don’t have to. We have to be careful. We need to make sure that wherever we put volleyball and cross country on the calendar, and all the sports on top of each other, that those multi-sport athletes are able to play all sports. We don’t want to get into a situation where the kids have to choose. They have had it rough since March. Spring sports were eliminated and now we are waiting until January to do all the sports. We want to make sure that whatever we do it’s for the good of the student athlete. Coaches and athletic directors, we need to communicate to make sure these kids are able to do all the sports they love. We are going to put this calendar in place. Our Board of Directors and the superintendents have approved that we can have state championships in June. So, we have six more weeks to play with. From January to June, we are planning to have all sports.
Lastly, fall sports were postponed until the second semester because of COVID-19 health related issues. Is there a chance some sports could be cancelled in the second semester if this continues?
There might have been some confusion when the Governor spoke. Some people thought it was cancelled. We have been saying it’s postponed. Those are two different words. Cancelled means that we are done. We are not cancelling fall sports at this time, we are postponing them. What is going to happen in January? COVID-19 is going to dictate that. All I can say is that we will continue to work with the Governor’s office, we will continue to work with the Public Education Department, and we don’t want to hear the word cancelled. We want to keep thinking that we are going to be able to play all sports in the 2020-2021 school year. Right now, they are postponed. We have our calendar and we are going to take it one day at a time, hoping that if we change our behavior and continue to wear masks and social distance and do what we can, then our student athletes will be able to play all the sports that they love next semester in the 2020-2021 school year. What I want to say is that We Will Play Again New Mexico.