Navajo Prep will know by Wednesday whether Navajo Nation OKs basketball season

Matt Hollinshead
Farmington Daily Times
Navajo Prep's Isaiah Morris looks to attack the basket against New Mexico Military Institute during a 3A boys basketball playoff game on Saturday, March 7, 2020, at the Eagles Nest in Farmington. Prep athletic director Rainy Crisp said the school will know by Wednesday, March 24, 2021, whether the Navajo Nation will allow basketball season to take place this spring.

FARMINGTON — Navajo Prep's anxiously awaiting the fate of its boys and girls basketball seasons, which is expected to be announced by Wednesday.

Eagles athletic director and girls basketball coach Rainy Crisp said Prep will know the Navajo Nation's official ruling by then.

Because the school is a grant institution authorized by the Navajo Nation, Crisp said the Navajo Nation will have the final say on whether Prep can welcome students back to campus for hybrid learning and allow sports teams to start practices and competitions.

“We have to abide by their orders,” Crisp said.

Prep was forced to cancel fall sports back in February because of the Navajo Nation's regulations, despite meeting the New Mexico Activities Association's guidelines to start sports.

“A lot of our students in the fall didn’t get to participate in sports. That really tore us apart... we’re just really hoping that athletes get back on the court, on the field,” Crisp said.

Crisp said she understands the Navajo Nation's cautious approach when it comes to hybrid learning and sports, but she's more optimistic about the outlook compared to last month — citing the dramatic drop in COVID-19 cases on the Navajo Nation in recent weeks.

“Our numbers are going down, which is great,” Crisp said, adding she hopes the area doesn’t start getting too lax with safety precautions. “The Navajo Nation has come a long way.”

Prep boys basketball coach Matt Melvin said the past year has been a roller coaster in dealing with the impact of the restrictions, but he hopes his squad will actually step onto the court this spring.

“It’s a huge thing… for a lot of these guys, they’ve worked hard (for this). It’s huge to them. It’s a huge community thing. Everybody (in the area) goes to the games. There’s no other experience like that in the area,” Melvin said. “I think it’s going to be really, really good for everybody if we get the green light and get this thing fired up again.”

Crisp said the opportunity to at least play basketball will "definitely help" make up for missing out on fall sports, adding that Prep will take every precaution to stay safe.

Matt Hollinshead covers sports and business for the Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4577, mhollinshead@daily-times.com and on Twitter at @MattH_717.

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