WEEKLY INTERVIEW WITH NMAA EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR SALLY MARQUEZ MAY 18, 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.
It was another busy weekend for high school competition. Let’s start with state spirit because they didn’t have a culminating event in 2020. How did this year’s event go?
It went fantastic. Just to see the kids participating once again on the Pit floor. This year was a little bit different because we had cheer on Friday and dance on Saturday. The school’s did two routines, whether it was on Friday or two routines on Saturday. With dance, they had to chance clothing in between, and they were able to get to a lockeroom, change, and then perform again. It was different, but it was exciting. The judges who came in from all over the nation was complimentary of everybody, the performances, the venue, the schedule, so it was a win-win for all.
State swimming and diving took place this weekend. How different was it having girls on one day and boys on another?
The biggest difference was that there were no spectators in the stands. Albuquerque Academy’s venue holds about 700 and when you add up the coaches, and athletes, and officials, we were going to be right there at that 33% threshold, so we could not have spectators in the stands. It was a really good event, a little different with girls on one day and boys on another, but the kids were able to compete. We were able to give out the trophies and awards. That was one sport we were very concerned about, whether the pools would be open and give the kids an opportunity to compete this year, and we did. Like I just said with spirit, it was a win-win for all.
The CDC and governor released an update on mask wearing. How does it affect high school athletes, in regards to New Mexico’s Health orders? Do you anticipate athletes wearing masks all this spring?
The CDC guidance and the governor’s orders have maintained that in the school setting, and we are education-based athletics, that mask wearing must continue. I’ve been in communication with the governor’s office and the Public Education Department and that is still in place. We are mask wearing in all our events. I know it’s getting hot in May and June for those outdoor sports, but at this point we have not heard anything different that we can remove the masks. So, we will continue to be mask wearing for the athletes. As far as spectators are concerned, they will follow the guidance of vaccinated/unvaccinated when they are able to watch their kids perform and compete. Once again, per the governor’s orders and the CDC guidance, in the public school and private school setting, we are all mask wearing.
The NFHS announced last week they are allowing states to decide if they want to use a 35 second shot clock when it comes to high school basketball. Where does New Mexico stand on this issue?
It’s not as easy as we think. People read about a shot clock for the 2022-2023 school year, however we need to talk to the coaches and the administrators. I think they will be on both sides of the fence. Coaches may think it will be good for the game, but on the administrative side you are talking ab out purchasing shot clocks. You also have to make sure someone is at the scorer’s table running the shot clock for C-team, JV, varsity, middle school. That can be very costly. We would also have to think about officials training. They normally go through rules changes that take place every year and now we would add the shot clock on top of it. We have a lot of work to do. We will go out and make sure that we talk to coaches and survey coaches and we will survey the administration. It will ultimately be up to our Board of Directors who will have the final say when we take it to vote. We will make sure we do our homework and do what’s best for New Mexico.
Lastly, we are more than halfway through the athletic season. How has the NMAA been able to pull it off so far?
Where there’s a will, there’s a way. I had that goal, and people that I was crazy, when I said we are going to play all sports in the 2020-2021 school year. Just like when we teach our athletes, when you have a goal you do everything you can to make sure you get to the finish line and attain that goal. That’s the way we looked at it as a staff and as a state with all of our athletic directors. This was the goal and we were going to do everything we could to make it happen. I just want to thank our administrators, our athletic directors, our coaches, because when they put their mind to it they were able to make sure those athletes had a good season and they were prepared and able to compete. Right now, we are halfway through, but like I said, we had a start and now we are midway. We need to keep it going so we get to the finish line. Those spring sport athletes deserve a great culminating event. We will have state wrestling next week, and after that we focus totally on spring sports and make sure those kids have a season. They didn’t have that season last year. We want to make sure they have a great season and a good experience. We are close to the finish line, we are doing it, but we have to keep going so we are able to do all sports in the 2020-2021 school year.