One of the areas the virus-related health mandates highlighted is the need to keep students active and engaged no matter the circumstances.

From that basic precept, new activity opportunities arose for students to participate in and bond with fellow classmates.

E-sports or gaming actually already was well on its way to being a New Mexico Activities Association activity before the pandemic hit, but by its very socially-distanced nature, it gained in popularity as students could compete virtually.

Now powerlifting in the late winter and early spring and boys volleyball in the spring are starting to gain more traction among athletic departments across the state.

Locally, however, those latter two activities remain on the drawing board, said Socorro athletic director Al Otero.

“There were meetings with the NMAA and (executive director) Sally Marquez, but I haven’t heard anything moving forward telling schools they had to do it,” he said. “I haven’t heard anything from the district about it.”

There was a meeting about powerlifting, Warriors wrestling coach Joel Partridge Jr. and football coach Damien Ocampo said, and there was some interest in at least learning more about it.

But those interested were already doing other sports, Ocampo said, so the timing of competitions was awkward.

“They just didn’t have time to go to the competitions,” he said. “It was really a small amount of kids that were interested and they just didn’t think they could commit.”

That being said, Ocampo said, if students did want to make the commitment, the coaching staffs would find a way to make it happen.

“Even if there were a kid or two that wanted to do it, we would do it,” he said.

Partridge said he recently spoke with a long-time area lifting and wrestling coach about this very issue, but it didn’t register much interest.

At Magdalena, however, there is a definite movement afoot to add more activities, said athletic director and boys basketball coach Jory Mirabal, although exact plans are not concrete just yet.

“We’re working on that right now,” he said. “We’re expanding what we’re offering in athletics and activities. We feel like there are a lot of opportunities we can offer kids that do not fit in the traditional mold.”

It is important, Mirabal said, to reach out to all students and find activities that they enjoy.

“If we can meet them where their interests are, provide a support for that and an outlet for those activities, we’re going to be farther ahead with these kids,” he said.

At Alamo Navajo, athletic director Barbara Gordon said connectivity issues have stymied attempts at creating any E-teams. It is definitely something the schools would like to add, she said, if those issues are ever addressed at the local level.

As for adding the other sports, Gordon said it is far too preliminary an issue, although she wouldn’t rule anything out for the future.

Glen Rosales for El Defensor Chieftain