The fall sports season has been pushed until 2021 after Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham announced last week she would not be amending the state public health order to allow for competitions to take place.

After weeks of buildup as teams across the county and the state prepared to get underway, news came down on Wednesday, Oct. 7, the start of the season would be pushed a week as the public health order wasn’t amended in order to allow competitions.

The following day, in her address discussing the recent spike in COVID-19 cases Lujan Grisham said she would not be amending the order, in order to avoid introducing more risk.

“It’s a huge disappointment,” Lujan Grisham said. “COVID is an unfair, vicious virus.”

While the New Mexico Activities Association said they were forced to delay the seasons by the governor’s orders, competitions have never been allowed under the public health order.

The seasons for cross country and volleyball will be pushed to the spring, with the NMAA expected to release an updated schedule this week. Golf, which was also scheduled to compete this fall, already was on the schedule for a spring start on April 5.

For Magdalena, the initial delay of one week didn’t change their schedules, as athletic director Jory Mirabal had scheduled competition to begin on Tuesday, Oct. 13.

“When I had to walk into that gym on Thursday and tell those kids they weren’t going to get to compete, it was the hardest thing I think I’ve ever had to do,” Mirabal said. “We’ve been telling them that if they followed the guidelines and did everything we asked them to do, they would get to play, and they did, they did everything we had asked.”

The Steers hadn’t encountered any problems with their workouts, and Mirabal said everything was going smoothly.

Alex Johnson, Socorro’s athletic director and head cross country coach, did not respond to a request for comment prior to print deadlines.

Under the out of season workout guidelines, teams may meet for seven-and-a-half hours per week. Currently, the public health order allows for groups to practice in nine-to-one pods and allows only for limited equipment work in order to limit potential exposures. All athletes have their temperatures check upon arriving to the gym and are asked a series of questions regarding any potential exposures they may have had or any other conditions that may lead to a quarantine, such as out of state travel in order to simplify contact tracing and minimize risk as much as possible.

The earliest sports will be able to start, in the event the public health orders at the time allow for competition, is Jan. 4, 2021, when basketball and swimming and diving are scheduled to begin.

Cameron Goeldner for Eld Defensor Chieftain