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Gov. Lujan Grisham announces contact sports like football, soccer won't happen this fall

NMAA: Football, soccer seasons postponed until spring

Matt Hollinshead, mhollinshead@daily-times.com

FARMINGTON — San Juan County’s football and soccer scenes will have to wait to start things up again amid the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham announced on Thursday that football and soccer cannot start in the fall, but other fall sports like volleyball, cross country and golf will be under review. If schools are not able to open in the fall, all sports will be cancelled. 

The announcement came during a press conference that was streamed live on Facebook.

Following the governor's press conference, the New Mexico Activities Association announced that football and soccer seasons would be postponed until spring 2021. 

Piedra Vista's Kasen Foster stays on his feet and picks up a first down against Highland during Friday's 5A state football playoff opener at Hutchison Stadium in Farmington.

Although the spread rate for northwestern New Mexico, including San Juan County, is down to 0.72, well below the 1.05 threshold that’s deemed the safe zone, the rest of the state is at 1.1 or higher due to a recent uptick in cases.

“If that downward trend had continued, we might be having a different conversation,” Bloomfield boys soccer coach Scott Reid said. “It breaks my heart. There’s sort of an emotional aspect to the game… The whole thing’s been unique day-to-day.”

Bloomfield coach Scott Reid talks to his team at halftime during Thursday’s boys soccer match at the Aztec Tiger Sports Complex.

The New Mexico Activities Association said in a press release that a tentative plan should be available on or around July 15.

“I feel sorry for (NMAA Executive Director) Sally (Marquez) because she’s trying get the right answer to an impossible question. I feel like she’s trying to do the best she can,” Piedra Vista football coach Jared Howell said. “We kept trying to have hope, then we’d have the air knocked out of us. This has been a roller coaster ride ever since it started.”

Kirtland Central volleyball coach Nadia Begay-Watson said she’s glad volleyball wasn’t impacted the way football and soccer were.

Begay-Watson also said if it gets to a point where the 2020 season starts a bit later in the fall or if only district matches will be allowed, she can deal with that.

Kirtland Central celebrates winning a point against Navajo Prep during Thursday's volleyball match at the Eagles Nest in Farmington.

Begay-Watson said Kirtland’s still not practicing yet because the facilities remain closed, but is encouraged that sports like volleyball will have a bit more time to see how things play out.

“Maybe it’s a good thing that we’re not rushing into this... I really hope we do have a season,” Begay-Watson said. “There’s just a bunch of moving pieces.”

Matt Hollinshead covers sports for the Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4577 and on Twitter at @MattH_717.

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