No health order update to permit fall sports
Last updated 10/10/2020 at 2:53pm
If high school sports in New Mexico resumes during the current school year, it won’t be until 2021.
Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said on Thursday that the state would not update its public health order about whether to permit youth and K-12 games or competition this fall. That also includes club sports.
The governor said in a statement that she is “very sorry” for the disappointment involved, but added that the state’s priorities are to ensure students can safely re-enter the classroom and drive down cases so youth sports can resume next year.
Clovis High athletic director Lonnie Baca said Friday the New Mexico Activities Association expects to release an updated spring sports schedule this week to determine where to slot volleyball and cross country. It won’t change the golf season, except schools will be left to try to fit the postponed fall portion of the schedule into the spring calendar.
The ruling adds to the logjam of sports already slated for the spring semester, with multi-sport athletes facing decisions about which activities to play.
“In addition to that, we have a lot of coaches who coach more than one sport,” Baca said. “I was hoping we could play this fall, but the hesitation by the governor’s office had set a tone that this (postponement) was a possibility.”
The NMAA had planned to start competition in volleyball, cross country and golf this weekend. Full team workouts were to have begun last Monday, but things had already been delayed because of the lack of clearance from the state.
Limited contact practices, with fewer than 10 in a group and all participants wearing face covering, are still permitted.
Longtime Portales High volleyball coach Ruth Chavez said it’s the first time in her 32 years of coaching that she hasn’t been preparing for volleyball matches in the fall, adding that teams just have to try get ready for, hopefully, a second-semester slate.
“It was disappointing,” she said of the state ruling. “But I’ve been honest with my kids all along: ‘Here’s the things that could happen.’ Children are a reflection of their parents; athletes are a reflection of their coaches.”
Many of the Lady Rams also play basketball, Chavez noted, and may have to make some choices when the new year rolls around.
“Our goal is to be physically and mentally ready when January comes,” she said. “We’re going to try to practice as much as we can.”
NMAA executive director Sally Marquez said in a release on Thursday that the association maintains a goal to offer every sports season for 2020-21.
“This is an extremely sad day for students across New Mexico,” Marquez said. “We were planning and hoping to begin competition this month as our member schools are eager to safely integrate sports and activities back to our students’ lives. At this point, however, we cannot stage any competitive events without an update to the current public health order.”
First-year CHS cross country coach Liz Ledezma noted that her runners have been working out since June.
“We’re pretty disappointed,” Ledezma said. “The kids were down, but we’ll just keep training and hopefully get better.”
Ledezma, also a track assistant, said she’s a bit concerned about overtraining, with the cross country and track seasons now likely to overlap a bit.
“I thought we were going to have a (fall) season,” she said. “We were supposed to have a meet (this weekend) and we didn’t hear anything until (Thursday).”
The only thing schools can do now is try to adjust the best they can.
“The big thing is the well-being of our kids,” Baca said. “It’s disheartening for a lot of them. I thought athletics for the groups getting to start (in the fall) was a healthy thing to do.”