Monday was the first day of practice for fall sports teams at Los Lunas High School, and already the Tigers were trying to make up for lost time.
The New Mexico Activities Association, the governing body of high school athletics in the state, rolled back the official starting date for fall sports up one week this year. No adjustment was made to the school calendar, so Tiger athletic teams are making the best of it without the benefit of traditional two-a-day practices the week before school starts.
Head football coach Avilio Chavez said the change not only takes away valuable practice time with his team but breaks custom.
“One of the things that bothers me about not having two-a-days is the tradition factor,” he said. “It’s one of those right-of-passage things you have in football, and that’s something that I miss.”
The change has caused coaches to alter their approach to the start of the season. Chavez is trying to cram two practices into one. Instead of practicing for two hours after school, Chavez is working his squad through two sessions from 3 p.m. to 6:45 p.m. during the first week of school.
“We’re trying to improvise,” he said. “We could have had (players) come in at five or six o’clock in the morning. But we had what we felt was a good summer, so we’re hoping that will offset some of the disadvantages of not having two-a-days.”
Lady Tiger soccer coach Pat Powers said she doesn’t like the situation but is trying to make do.
“If I had my choice, I’d move school back two weeks,” she said. “I would prefer us not to be in school while we were having two-a-days. But it’s do-able. We’ll run with it.”
Powers is also trying to make up for the lost practice time.
“We’re going to do some other things with our schedule to try to get those practices in,” she said, adding that she’s extended practices by an hour each day. “And we’ll be picking up an extra practice during the week. We’ll have a Saturday practice, at least for the first part of our season.”
Boys soccer coach Eliseo Aguirre said he’s used to having two-a-day practices, with conditioning in the morning and fundamentals in the afternoon. “Now we have to mix in both,” he said.
Aguirre said time will tell if missing out on two-a-day workouts will prove to be a hindrance.
“I won’t be able to give you a truthful answer about that until we scrimmage Saturday or until the Clovis tournament,” he said. “We built up a pretty tough schedule for the start of the season. We have five games in less than a week’s time. So we’re going to have to be in serious shape.”
The boys soccer team has less time than the others to prepare for the start of the season. Aguirre’s team opens the season in just over a week when they travel to Clovis for three games. They then play two of the state’s elite teams — Sandia and La Cueva — the following Tuesday and Thursday.