In General News, Press Releases

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 are a couple weeks into the return of fall sports.  How are the student athletes and coaches doing with wearing masks?

They’re adjusting.  Mask wearing is very difficult when it comes to athletics, however it can happen.  We need to make sure our athletes have it over their nose and mouth at all times.  We do know that in the heat of play that it may go below their nose, but any time they can put it back up over their nose is what they need to do.  The athletes that are defying the orders by putting them under their chin, we’re going to start doing something about that with sanctioning or pulling them out of the game.  We need to make sure that all our athletes are mask wearing and it is the same across the board in all sports.


Basketball season starts this week.  In general, how will the basketball season look different?

Again, it’s mask wearing.  That’s going to be the main difference when it comes to basketball.  You will see on the sidelines social distancing on the benches.  You’ve seen that on tv with the NCAA Tournament, everybody is separated.  That is the main difference, plus the jump ball.  We will not have a jump ball, it will just be alternating possessions.


This week is the state cross country meet.  What will that look like this year?

It will look a little bit different.  We will have six races on Friday and two on Saturday.  It’s not going to be the same where we do all the boys and all the girls.  We are going to have sessions, with each classification.  For example, in Class 4A, we will run the boys 4A and then we will run the girls 4A and then we will clear everybody out to allow time for sanitizing and make sure everything is set for the next classification coming in.  So, it will be a little bit different.


The NMAA will seed for state volleyball this weekend.  How will that be different than year’s past?

In the past, we had 12 qualifiers, now we are only going to have eight.  That being said, the district champion automatically gets a berth.  In some classifications, that could be 6 or 7 teams that automatically get in.  The selections process may only be 1-2 teams that recei ve an at-large bid to fill out the 8-team bracket.  It’s not ideal.  You may not see the top 8 teams going to state.  But we have to focus on the fact we are playing a season and we are able to have a culminating event.


What about a state event in soccer, when and where will it be held?

Just like volleyball, we are going to shrink the field from 12 to 8 in Class 4A and 5A, in A-3A we will have four teams qualifying.  The quarterfinals and semifinals we will have at home sites.  The finals will be played at the University of New Mexico Soccer Complex.  Because there is a women’s soccer game going on during that time, we will host the finals on two separate days and no only use the main field but also Robertson Field which is located just above the main field.


Football won’t have a culminating event because the season is too short.  How will the NMAA determine those final week matchups in football?

Right now, we are asking which teams want to opt out.  There are some teams that will say ‘4 games is enough for us, and we’re going to go on and play basketball.’  Some schools have a lot of student athletes that are shared between those two sports.  Once we get that information, then we will match up accordingly.  We will look at the results that happened the last 3-4 games and we will match up accordingly as to what we see fit to be a great bowl-type experience for those student athletes.


Lastly, we’ve seen the return of fall sports.  Winter sports are getting underway.  Spring sports are scheduled to have close to a full season.  Are we getting back to some sense of normalcy?

I don’t know if anything’s going to be normal this year, however we are playing and the goal was to play every single sport this school year and here we are.  I know that it’s shortened seasons, especially in the fall and winter and they are on top of each other in some of those sports.  But once we get to April 5th for the beginning of spring sports, we will have a good two-and-a-half months to play spring sports and that’s what those athletes need because they didn’t get to participate last year.  Is it becoming normal?  It’s becoming a little more normalized because our kids are able to be with their coaches, they’re able to be with their teammates, and they’re able to compete.  Even though we are mask wearing, even though we continue to do COVID-safe practices, we have a start and now we need to finish.

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