WEEKLY INTERVIEW WITH NMAA EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR SALLY MARQUEZ NOVEMBER 16, 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.
The governor announced a new public health order for New Mexicans to shelter in place. How does that affect high school athletics and activities?
The governor’s orders did not change anything when it comes to school. We are education-based athletics which means we are school-based athletics. Therefore, our student athletes can still work in their 4:1 pods that they had before the governor’s orders. Nothing has changed in those regards.
Since we are in “out of season,” can coaches work out with their athletes if “school” is not in session?
We have remote learning and in-person learning for some of those micro-districts, but our high school kids are mostly remote learning. What is considered out of season? Right now, we are considered out of season because nobody is playing sports at this time. Is school in session? Yes, school is in session. The time when school is not in session would be over Thanksgiving break or your traditional winter break that happens mid-December until the beginning of January. So, during the Thanksgiving break and the winter break they will not be able to work with their athletes at that time.
Last week the Ivy League announced a shutdown of all winter sports. Do you see that happening here?
This is tough. You see everything in the news from one area to another and all we can do is look at New Mexico. We start looking at Arizona, Colorado and Texas and see what is happening there, but from the governor’s office we need to focus in on New Mexico and what we can do. January 4th is our start date for winter sports. Realistically, is that going to be tough since we are in a shutdown period right now and are cases have risen? Yes. We need to get those cases down and we need to turn our counties to green so we can start talking about winter sports.
Will there be a deadline or decision made by the association if we will play again in January or will we go week by week depending on health orders?
I think we learn lessons to what happened with fall sports. The start date was October 5th and we were waiting and waiting for some answers from the governor’s office as to when we were ready to go forward with our fall sports. As we waited and waited, the anticipation was greater and greater, and then when we were not able to go it was a letdown for those athletes. So we learned a lot. We’re supposed to start winter sports, like basketball, on January 4th, along with swimming and diving. However, I don’t want to wait until January 4th, January 6th, January 8th to make that determination. We should have something here by the beginning of December and we need to make some decisions whether we are going to be able to start on January 4th or do we need to move that back a few weeks.
When athletics do start, do you believe there will still be a mandate for all mask wearing for all athletes in ALL sports?
I like that questions because you said ‘when athletics DO start.’ We still believe we are going to play again New Mexico. Will there be mask wearing? That will be determined as to what is going on at that time. If you ask me the question right now in mid-November, yes, it will be mask wearing.
Ultimately, what is it going to take in order for high school sports to start?
We need to bring the cases down. We need to get to where the state is all green counties. If we are in the same climate that we are today, then we might not be able to start on January 4th or mid-January or the end of January. We need all communities to look at this. It’s not even just athletics, it’s getting these kids back into school. We have to change. If we all work together, then we can have high school athletics.
Lastly, I know you don’t have a crystal ball and COVID is ever-changing, but ultimately a lot of people want to know is what is your best guess as to if and when athletics will start this school year?
Everything is a guess. Look back what happened two weeks ago or even a month ago, we were totally in a different place with COVID than we are today. So, every day there’s a different guess. You could ask that question to me next week and I’d have a different answer, even tomorrow I may have a different answer. Are we going to start on January 4th? I don’t know. And to be honest, I don’t think so. Today, we are going to look at the calendar and our goal is to play every single sport in New Mexico. Does that mean we might have to shorten some of the seasons? Yes, we might have to shorten some of the seasons, but we can make this work. We are still positive and we can make this work next semester. Is it going to be ideal? No. I am in the mindset that we preserve spring sports and our goal is that every single sport is played so that every student athlete will be able to play the game that they love. It might be in shortened seasons, but we are not going to give up and we are going to play again New Mexico.