A few short weeks ago, Socorro and Magdalena teams were locked in to the NMAA basketball playoffs. Coaches were preparing to begin practice for spring sports.
On March 11, the NMAA basketball tournament moved to Santa Ana Sports Complex, stands were filled with families and fans.
A few days later, on March 13, the games continued, surrounded by silence, as spectators were prohibited from the venue.
As of today, all high school sports and practices have been postponed indefinitely.
Players, coaches, fans and former coaches were upset about the situation with the economic impact as well as seeing students participating in sporting events.
Former Magdalena Volleyball Head Coach Bryan Baca and current team parent for his son and freshman Josh Baca are stuck at home to practice with friends in non-NMAA sanctioned areas.
“It’s kinda tough for the kids, not just being out of school but for sports,” he said. “Our small community thrives on our sports. The players can’t even get out there on the fields, they can’t do anything. When this first went into affect it felt like an overreaction, but in hindsight, it seems to be spreading faster than expected so keeping the kids safe is what’s important.”
Senior Kyle Julian, fresh off signing his contract on February 25 to play basketball for the Northern New Mexico College Eagles, was shut down for his senior baseball season before it started.
“It’s disappointing and it’s sad, especially being my last year to play baseball,’ he said. “We are living in tough times. It’s hurtful. You want to be in school, be out, do all the stuff you do with your friends, but you can’t. I was heartbroken, I love playing the game, playing with my brothers. I just hope to go out being able to play some spring sports. We’re having our season taken away from us.”
Signing day was not the only thing Julian was going through with an empty Pit empty stadium during the state championships.
“In the Pit having no fans really didn’t bother me that much,” he said. “You just have to go out there at the end of the day and work your butt off. I couldn’t be any more proud of my team for going out there and giving it their all."
Complying with NMAA rules, Steers baseball Head Coach Kyl Candelaria is coming off of a disappointing 2019 record with a sub .500 record at 7-17. He was looking forward to a bounce back for the Magdalena team before this happened and still hopes for the opportunity to see his Steers compete.
“As of right now we are not even sure if we are going to have a season until the NMAA meets on April 1,” he said. “We’re completely shut down. I’m concerned about the safety of the kids but also concerned that the kids are not able to play, especially the seniors. I have two seniors, Will Montoya and Kyle Julian, who won’t have an opportunity to play in their last year. Coaching is the whole reason I got into education and to have a season taken away from us is hard to deal with. “
If the restrictions were lifted tomorrow, Candelaria had no doubts that his team would be ready and up to the challenge.
Cheerleading is yet another example of how sports are being affected in local communities. Head Coach Jesse Otero is concerned about the Lady Steers team being able to compete during the state championships at the Santa Ana Complex which has been postponed by the NMAA.
“We are trying to stay really positive,” she said. “We are not allowed to practice so every Tuesday and Thursday we have a group phone call and we have workout routines they can do on their own. We face time and use a buddy system to help motivate and inform each other. I assign the buddies and every week it switches and the group call keeps the group together. I try to motivate the team with inspirational quotes and keep the focus. No matter what happens, I’m proud of them as a team. I’ve loved coaching them, watching them grow as individuals and leaders.”
It does not stop there. One of Socorro County’s top gymnastics training areas, Eclipse Gymnastics is now unable to train. The girls are no longer eligible to train as well as compete in both state and national competitions.
“The season is done,” Eclipse Head Coach Aleta Gallegos said. “USA Gymnastics cancelled all meets through May. I feel like we’ve had a really good year and it’s a shame we didn’t get to show our growth at state and for the girls to be able to compete against others in their age group.
"I feel we had a good chance of being in the top three all around at least. I’m disappointed, but we are focusing on next year, starting prep for the new routines. I’ve been sending out routines for the girls to stay in shape and keep up.”
The sports community in New Mexico has been shut down as part of Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham issuing a department of health emergency on March 11.
Games are not being played and athletes are unsure whether or not they will be able to compete before the spring season of the 2020 school year ends.
Track and Field as well as baseball is up in the air for all Socorro County schools.