WEEKLY INTERVIEW WITH NMAA EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR SALLY MARQUEZ APRIL 5, 2021
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 just wrapped up the Rudy’s Real Texas Bar-B-Q Volleyball State Championships. How did it go?
It went great. To see those athletes competing, even though they are mask wearing, you know that they’re smiling and enjoying the moment. It was a fantastic event, great volleyball, and very good sportsmanship.
It wasn’t for a blue trophy, but this was the first-time football had some sort of spotlight event in one location with all classes represented. Is this something that will be considered for a football state championship culminating event in the future?
I don’t think anyone needs to look at it that way. I think a lot of people are wondering if this is the way we’re going to go. We made that decision to play at University Stadium based on COVID. The University of New Mexico stepped in all sports in allowing us to use the facilities and give these kids the best experience possible. Will we look at it? Sure, we will look at it. But any decision like that is going to be talked about aamong all the member schools and the Board of Directors. So, it’s not going to be a quick decision that we are going to do that in the future.
Seeding and Selection for state soccer took place this past weekend. How did you determine the field in each class and who got in and who didn’t?
This is one thing parents need to understand. We communicate with the coaches and athletic directors and even in our preseason videos we talk about how teams will qualify for the postseason. The problem we are having this year is that the field has been shrunk, it’s cut in half. We are using the criteria points and because of the COVID year, we do not have as much data for things like MaxPreps and overall record, so things are a little bit different. However, this is what the Board of Directors and our member schools voted on that we will go to eight-team brackets, and in soccer it was four teams in Class A-3A. The district champions automatically qualify for state. We get a lot of questions surrounding two-team districts and four and five team districts. We cannot penalize anyone because they have to play in their region only. For example, in Class 5A, with Farmington and Piedra Vista in the northwest, they don’t have any other 5A schools to compete against so we cannot penalize them for that because those restrictions are from the governor’s orders. When we put together the field, the district champions automatically qualify, that could account for four, five or six teams out of the eight-team bracket. There are not many at-large teams that can be selected into the field. When we do select a team into the field, we use the six criteria points. With that being said, there are going to be some teams that are probably “deserving” or may be better than the district champions from other districts, that are not able to be in the field. Like I’ve said before, this is not ideal. We need to go back and remember that the kids were able to have a season, they were able to participate and now we are able to have a culminating event.
There are still a couple weeks until seeding and selection for state basketball. How will those brackets be determined?
It’s going to be the same way. The brackets are going to be eight-teams, district champions automatically qualify and we will do the seeding and selection with the six criteria points. Once again, when those come out, I’m sure there will be some teams that might be one of the top eight teams in the state that might not make the field. What we need to remember is that everybody just wanted to play. It’s not about the blue trophy. We need to go back and think about the social and emotional well-being of our students and we are playing again and that’s what we need to focus on.
Lastly, state cross country in the books, state volleyball complete, state soccer this week, basketball season underway. Are we back to normal? Is COVID behind us?
It is not. All the sports are on top of each other right now. In fact, this week we have fall sports (soccer), winter sports and our spring sports are just starting. So, this week every single season has begun. Is it normal? No, it’s not. I am going to have meetings with athletic directors and coaches. We need to realize we are still in a pandemic. We still have COVID-19 to deal with. We need to do all the protocols that were handed down by the governor’s office to keep these kids safe. Everybody wants it to be normal and everybody wants to go watch the kids play and let’s not sanitize and forget these masks and travel all over the state, but that’s not it. We need to remember that we have to follow the governor’s orders, we have to mask wear, we have to social distance, and for indoor sports we need to get those counties from yellow to green and turquoise so parents can watch their kids participate. Once again, we have a start, we are in COVID-19 and still in a pandemic, we need to follow all the criteria so that we can have a finish.