Following New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham’s press conference on April 30, the Hobbs United States Specialty Sports Association came to the decision to cancel its spring sports events and refund all the players who signed on to play. USSSA New Mexico and West Texas director Julia Rodriguez says the summer league is canceled, but still hopes for the fall season.
“We didn’t have a choice any more with the extension and the way it was,” she said. “All youth sports for the summer softball, baseball, the adult have already been canceled. Maybe we get fall in, but it depends on how we are in phase three, and depending on how long as we have not hit phase one.”
The phases Rodriguez is speaking about are part of Governor Lujan Grisham’s plan to safely re-open New Mexico. Rodriguez mentions that sports falls into phase three of the governor’s plan with large gatherings. According to the Lujan Grisham’s plan, phase three would be a return to normalcy. But, with the extension of social distancing pushed to May 15, and the state not even in phase one, Rodriguez and the board had no choice but to cancel this season, but added there is a chance for the adults to play in August.
“They are saying maybe August for the adults, but that’s a big if,” she said. “In her last speech, she said she had no idea on how to handle large gatherings. The doctor that spoke said that children were the worst at trying to control because they don’t understand social distancing, staying six feet apart, or washing their hands. She basically said it was going to be harder for youth sports to get started up then adults.”
With the loss of the season, Rodriguez has been working on notifying all coaches and parents. USSSA is going to refund everyone who signed up their children to play in the league, even if they want to play in the fall. This is because USSSA handles the fall and summer leagues differently due to keeping all the children in the right age group. Social media and text messages are currently notifying coaches and parents.
“We kind of put out stuff in social media and I texted all the coaches and notified them,” Rodriguez said. “Parents have been texting me and I have asked them to text their kid’s name so I can look for the forms so I can write refund checks because we are mailing everything.”
Rodriguez added all parents who signed their kids to play this summer can text her at (575) 602-1717 and leave a message with their children’s name, age group they signed up for, who to make the check out to, and a current mailing address.
With the summer season canceled, USSSA is looking ahead, with hope, toward the fall season for softball and baseball. Rodriguez is hopeful they will be able to have a fall season if New Mexico reaches phase three of Lujan’s plan.
“I guess if she allows us to go into phase three,” she said. “We fall under large group gatherings, so it has to be them allowing us to go into that stage. Hopefully by then she will and we will take the precautions as a league to play and start up.”
Rodriguez continued that fall season sign ups will be held in August and the league will advertise only if they are given the OK to do large gatherings from the state. If the league is given the green light, the fall season will begin Sept. 1 until the middle of October. If not able to hold a fall season then USSSA will not advertise or hold sign ups for the season.
But losing out on the summer season, Rodriguez called it heartbreaking for the children.
“It’s heartbreaking because I know the kids really wanted to play,” Rodriguez said. “But I guess safety first and we go by what she tells us what we kind of do.”