High school student-athletes who were poised to start playing volleyball, golf, or running cross country got the news Thursday they were hoping would never come: their fall season won’t happen due to Covid-19.
During her Oct. 8 Covid-19 press conference, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham announced that the state is not updating its public health order to permit youth sports or K-12 games or competitions this fall.
Immediately following the governor’s announcement, the New Mexico Activities Association announced in a press release that it was postponing its volleyball, cross country, and fall golf season until 2021.
“This is an extremely sad day for students across New Mexico,” NMAA executive director Sally Marquez said in the press release. “We were planning and hoping to begin competition this month.”
In a video posted later in the day on the NMAA’s website, Marquez said, “We’re not able to compete due to the governor’s public health orders.”
Back in July, Lujan-Grisham announced that no high-risk contact sports would be permitted this fall, and the NMAA subsequently postponed football, soccer, and basketball until 2021.
But the NMAA had given the green light for the three sports that it deemed low risk—volleyball, cross country, and golf—to officially start practices on Oct. 5.
Last month, the governor and the NMAA increased the permitted size of groups during workouts and practices from five athletes per coach to nine athletes per coach.
Area schools with the three NMAA-allowed fall sports programs started officially practicing this week with games and meets scheduled to start as early as Oct. 10.
Moriarty High School’s volleyball and cross country teams had season-openers scheduled for Oct. 10, while other area schools’ season-opening events were scheduled to get underway the week of Oct. 12.
On Oct. 7, the NMAA informed area high schools that it was cancelling the Oct. 10 kickoff for fall competitions but did not pull the plug on the entire fall season until the governor’s announcement.
“We always knew it was a possibility but when you actually hear it, it’s a bummer,” Moriarty athletic director Joe Anaya said about the postponement. “It stinks for the kids, it stinks for the parents, it stinks for everybody.”
The NMAA said it is working on a calendar adjustment that would move volleyball and cross country to the spring semester. The spring golf season will continue as originally planned with a tentative start date of April 5.
The NMAA said it will release an updated calendar next week. “This is the last thing that I wanted to do, is to tell our student athletes that we’re not able to play fall sports,” Marquez said in the video. “But one thing that I want to get out there is we have to stay positive, we have to continue moving forward.”
Both the governor and Marquez confirmed that limited, non-contact workouts and practices with the 9-to-1 pods are still permitted.
Ger has been writing and shooting photos of high school sports for The Independent for 15 years. His dedication to youth athletics goes beyond sports reporting. He is past president of East Mountain Little League and works as a baseball umpire. He lives in Edgewood with his family.