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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.


With all fall sports being postponed to the second semester, has the NMAA decided where cross country will start on the new updated athletic calendar?  And why is it a shortened season?

It’s shortened to five weeks long.  The coaches were concerned about the back-to-back seasons with cross country and track and field.  They were asking if they could have a shorter cross country season so the kids could get a little 2-3 week break and then participate in track and field.  So cross country will start on February 15, but it will end five weeks later.  We will have the state cross country meet the third week in March.


What about volleyball? When is it scheduled on the athletic calendar?

Volleyball is difficult.  We had a lot of things to look at and the number one thing was the multi-sport athletes.  We want to make sure that all kids are still able to play the three seasons if they are a three-season athlete.  We shortened volleyball by one week and we are starting on March 1 and we will end on May 1.  The only overlap that you will see in volleyball is if their team makes the playoffs.  If a school makes the playoffs, you might have 1 week or 2 week overlap in volleyball.  But if they don’t make the playoffs, remember it’s eight teams only that make it, then there will not be an overlap with basketball and volleyball.


There were also some changes to volleyball state championships with the quarterfinals on a Monday, Semifinals on Wednesday and Thursday with Finals on Friday and Saturday.  Why is it designed that way?

We went from a 10-week season to a 9-week season.  The reason we did that is because we wanted to make sure our volleyball players had a solid spring season.  Putting this calendar together is tough with back-to-back sports.  If we had one less week, we could get those athletes, that are playing softball or running track, out sooner.  Instead of having our quarterfinals the weekend before at home sites, we will now have our quarterfinals on Monday at home sites and then on Wednesday and Thursday we will have the semifinals and the finals on Friday and Saturday.  This will allow our teams to not have to spend the night, they can go play the volleyball match and come home and then go play the semifinals and finals.


You added two weeks to the spring golf schedule.  Why?

We missed about five weeks of golf.  When the governor’s orders would not allow us to compete in fall golf, we wanted to make sure our golfers had some of those weeks back.  Two weeks prior to when they would normally start spring golf allows them to have two more events.  It gives them a little more leeway when it comes to the scheduling.


When can spirit competitions begin?

January 16th.  The first we have scheduled is at Goddard.  I just had a spirit clinic and I told the spirit world we don’t know what it’s going to look like.  Spirit competitions are still considered high risk right now.  They’re really not putting routines together, they can’t stunt and they have to social distance.  Basically, it is To Be Determined.  We are scheduled for January 16th, but we are willing and ready to move or shift spirit if we need to.


Lastly, because fall sports are postponed to the second semester, we’ve seen some students leave to compete elsewhere.  What do you tell the student athletes who remain in the state with the chance to compete in the spring?

I know it’s hard.  It’s gut-wrenching to see what these kids are going through and I’ve used the word sad.  We have some kids who are leaving the state, but we have others where New Mexico is home and they want to continue their education and their sports in New Mexico.  To those students, I want to say ‘Be Positive’.  It doesn’t do any good to be down about the situation. COVID-19 is here, our numbers are escalating, but let’s stay positive and focus in on getting ready for the season or focus in on just staying in shape.  This is a good time when instead of working out for competition, let’s work out to make sure our bodies are healthy and our minds are healthy and that should be the focus.  What I’d also like to say to those student athletes is we are not giving up.  We are going to continue to make sure that sports will work in the 2020-2021 school year and we will play again New Mexico.

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