Anyone wondering when high school sports might return did not get a clear-cut answer from Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham during her Jan. 14 press conference.
But as the expression goes, no news is good news—at least for now.
“We’re kind of in limbo,” Moriarty head football coach Gabe Romero said.
Lujan Grisham’s Jan. 14 press conference was streamed live on Facebook and simulcast on multiple news websites. The governor did not mention anything about high school sports until a viewer asked about it during the question-and-answer period at the end of the press conference.
“We are meeting with both college sports officials and the New Mexico Activities Association,” Lujan Grisham said in response to the question. “We are very optimistic that many things are right around the corner.”
“You know, I’m very, very hopeful, unfortunately I’m not super-optimistic based on the fact that in the fall they let volleyball and cross country start practicing before they pulled the rug out from under us,” Romero said.
“The fact that the governor mentioned the NMAA in a press conference is progress,” Estancia athletic director and head football coach Stewart Burnett said. “So, I’m hopeful—and I’m gonna be hopeful till I’m absolutely crushed.”
A meeting—which would likely be held via Zoom—between the governor and the NMAA would be the first since the state shut down schools last March due to the coronavirus pandemic, Burnett said.
After the state closed schools, the NMAA canceled spring sports and postponed fall sports to the spring 2021 semester.
The NMAA’s current calendar has high school sports tentatively resuming Feb. 1, starting with football; volleyball and cross country are tentatively set to go on Feb. 15 and soccer on March 1. Basketball, spirit, and swimming and diving are scheduled to start March 22; wrestling is slated for a March 29 start; and spring sports are all slated for early April.
“The fact that we’re at least having the conversation with the most important party involved in this since this whole thing began is a good thing,” Burnett said.
Burnett said he has been holding virtual workouts for the past two weeks, and he and Romero both said they plan to resume in-person weight room workouts next week with the pod sizes currently permitted by the state and the NMAA.
“I wish I could be 100 percent more optimistic,” Romero said about football resuming, adding, “Our plan is to use the next two weeks as a chance to get back in the weight room and our hope is February 1st we’ll be practicing.”