High school all-star games hope schedule change provides boost - Albuquerque Journal

High school all-star games hope schedule change provides boost

The days of the traditional North-South All-Star games for high school athletes are over.

The games themselves are not. In fact, they are being given a fresh coat of paint.

And a more immediate calendar.

All-Star games in football, soccer, volleyball and basketball will be held during the school year after the New Mexico Activities Association’s board of directors on Wednesday afternoon voted to pass this motion on a trial basis for 2021-22.

“They need a shot in the arm,” NMAA executive director Sally Marquez said. The subject will be revisited next year.

The games have been restricted to the weeks following the completion of the academic school year, starting in June.

But Buster Mabrey, the executive director of the New Mexico High School Coaches Association — which plans and stages the All-Star events —told the board on Wednesday that the games themselves had become stagnant and that they’d also been plagued in recent years by poor behavior among the athletes. Holding them during the school year will make it easier to hold them accountable, Mabrey said.

Changing the calendar would also give organizers a better chance to attract more of the state’s top senior athletes.

“In the summertime, everyone has moved on,” Mabrey said.

Soccer (Nov. 13), volleyball (Nov. 20) and football (Dec. 4) will have their All-Star games following their regular seasons and, Mabrey said, with minimal impact for the winter-sport athletes.

The state’s top basketball seniors would play on Saturday, March 20, a week after the last of the state championship games at the Pit.

Baseball, softball and tennis would hold their All-Star events June 3-4. The Marilyn Sepulveda Invitational, which is a staple on the track and field regular-season schedule, would retain its status as the state’s all-star meet on April 11.

As for the selection of teams, it is being restructured as a red chile/green chile format, drafted by an All-Star committee. This replaces the old North vs. South structure. Athletes from the same school may often find themselves competing against one another.

The NMHSCA is going to choose the All-Star drafting committees.

Among the other action items the NMAA board passed Wednesday:

n Starting in 2023, aluminum bats will return to high school baseball. Players can swing those, composite metal bats, composite wood bats or straight wooden bats. It’s been nearly a decade since New Mexico restricted baseball to wood or composite wood bats.

This will be a referendum for the schools.

n The iWanamaker rankings will be used to qualify teams for the state golf tournament, except in the case of the district champion. The next three teams in Class 4A and 5A, and the next two in 1A-3A, will qualify for state based on those rankings. Individually, the top eight individuals from iWanamaker who are not part of a state qualifying team will earn bids to state.

NOTES: Wednesday’s board meeting was the first in-person gathering since the pandemic began. … Among the discussion items Wednesday were a shot clock in basketball (equipment costs and training officials are going to be two of the ongoing talking points) and an updated classification and realignment, which the board will vote on Dec. 2.

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