WEEKLY INTERVIEW WITH NMAA EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR SALLY MARQUEZ JUNE 1, 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.
Last weekend was the New Mexico National Guard State Wrestling Championships. Same location, one day for each class, smaller field, how did it go?
Yes, it was a smaller field and one day event, but it was a fantastic event. That was one sport we were very concerned about from the beginning; how are we going to do wrestling and have a culminating event. To see the kids competing, handing out blue trophies, handing out medals, seeing that environment and that the kids are able to compete in the sport they love, it was a great weekend.
The NMAA recently announced the State Cross Country Championships will be held this fall at Albuquerque Academy. Why move from Rio Rancho?
In every sport, we are going to look at what worked this year, what do we need to change, and what doesn’t work. When it came to cross country, Albuquerque Academy put on a great event. We got some great responses on how we did the classifications this year where we did boys and girls 5A and boys and girls 2A, and we cleared out the venue and came back with another classification. That worked out really well, that it wasn’t a massive amount of people. The Albuquerque Academy is a great environment to carry on that time schedule. Rio Rancho has done a phenomenal job. I want to say thank you to that community and all they have done with cross country. When I came on board in 2004, we held the state cross country meet in Gallup and that was a beautiful event. Whether it’s Gallup or Rio Rancho or now Albuquerque Academy, we just want to make sure we have the best event possible for cross country runners and we really believe that what we did this year in cross country can carry over to next year and we could have a very good quality event.
Every spring, many parents wonder why state events conflict with graduations. Can you explain why the NMAA holds those championships on dates when they conflict with some graduations?
I think many parents and student athletes are not aware that we have a five-year calendar. The calendar is on our website, and we stay consistent with all the weeks we have our state championships. Of course, this year was different due to the change in the calendar because of COVID, however, every other year we have state tennis, state track, state baseball, state softball on that same weekend. Our superintendents know when we are going to have these events and graduations. A majority of them look at the calendar before they make their decision on graduation dates. The one event we always have conflicts with is that we don’t have any control over is AP testing. We have conflicts with tennis and golf when it comes to AP testing, however there is a makeup date for AP testing. I encourage all superintendents, all school boards, to look at our five-year calendar prior to making decisions on graduation. We will go back in the 2021-2022 school year and stay consistent as we have done in the past years. Hopefully, there will not be any conflicts when it comes to graduations.
Lastly, has there been any changes to the governor’s mask guidelines when it comes to student athletes? Will they still be required to wear masks at high school competitions even when school is completed for the year?
As of right now, there has not been any change. The CDC has the guidance that when you are in school that you must wear a mask. We are education-based athletics and under the ‘school’ category. We are hoping that does change and the CDC does update their guidance. I will continue to communicate with the Public Education Department and the governor’s office to see what we can do about the mask wearing, but currently we are still wearing masks. We have three weeks left. I looked at the calendar and we have three weeks for small schools track, tennis and golf. We have four weeks in baseball, softball, and large school track. We are almost there. I know it’s getting hot, and the mask wearing is getting a little more difficult, but we are at the finish line. We need to continue to mask wear and do what we’re supposed to do as far as following the governor’s guidance and by the end of June we will be able to say we’ve played every sport in New Mexico and that was our goal for the 2020-2021 school year. We are right there at the cusp of this. Let’s hang on and keep the kids smiling and competing. We are playing sports and we are at the finish line.