There will be no fall sports season after all.
After weeks of buildup as teams across the county and the state prepared to get underway, news came Wednesday, Oct. 7, that the start of the season would be pushed a week as the public health order wasn’t amended in order to allow for competitions.
The following day, in her address discussing the recent spike in COVID-19 cases across New Mexico, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said she would not be amending the order to avoid introducing more risk.
“It’s a huge disappointment,” Lujan Grisham said. “COVID is an unfair, vicious virus.”
While the New Mexico Activities Association said they were forced to delay the seasons by the governor’s orders, competitions have never been allowed under the public health order.
The seasons for cross country and volleyball will be pushed to the spring, with the NMAA expected to release an updated schedule this week to include cross country and volleyball. Golf, which was also scheduled to compete this fall, already was on the schedule for a spring start on April 5.
The change means all 13 sports will begin their seasons sometime between January and April.
The news was a disappointment to the local school districts that have been able to safely hold practices in line with the public health orders since June.
“We are all disappointed, frustrated and saddened that our students athletes will not be able to compete this fall,” Los Lunas athletic director Wilson Holland said. “I would like to acknowledge and thank our student athletes and coaching staff for their continued hard work, dedication and resiliency during this pandemic.
“We would like to thank Sally Marquez and the NMAA staff for their hard work, dedication and determination during the pandemic. Los Lunas Schools will continue with out-of-season workouts and academic achievement periods (study hall) in order to prepare our student athletes for the spring of 2021.”
Steven Contreras, the athletic coordinator for Belen Consolidated Schools, praised his coaches and athletes for the work they have done in order to practice safely.
“I would like to compliment our coaches and student athletes for doing a great job following all state-mandated restrictions and guidelines,” Contreras said.
“A large majority of our athletic programs have been practicing and working out since June 15. We were able to conduct productive workouts in a safe and organized environment,” he said. “We will remain hopeful and positive that competitions may resume in the spring for our athletic programs.”
The Eagles will also continue to hold practices in line with state requirements.
“Along with preparation for upcoming seasons, it is also important for the social and emotional wellbeing of our student athletes,” Contreras said.
Under the out-of-season workout guidelines, teams may meet for 7 1/2 hours per week. Currently, the public health order allows for groups to practice in nine-to-one pods and allows only for limited equipment work in order to limit potential exposures.
All athletes have their temperatures checked upon arriving at the gym and are asked a series of questions regarding any potential exposures they may have had or any other conditions that may lead to a quarantine, such as out-of-state travel in order to simplify contact tracing and minimize risk as much as possible.
At this time, the earliest sports will resume is on Jan. 4, 2021, when the basketball, swimming and diving seasons are scheduled to begin.