More long drives for high school sports teams after redistricting
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Some high school athletes in New Mexico are going to have some long drives ahead of their games next school year after another round of redistricting Wednesday.
The New Mexico Activities Association moved teams around, which it does every two years, and as is often the case, some schools within the same district are far apart.
For example, a six-and-a-half-hour drive separates the Portales and Silver high school football teams, and two football teams in Rio Rancho and two in Farmington are more than two-and-a-half hours away from each other.
Coaches say the strains of travel – late nights, the cost – are something they’re all used to. There will always be long trips whether the team is in their district or not because of the state’s geography.
“We’re in a unique situation with New Mexico and the way all the schools are spread out throughout the state,” said Jaime Ramirez, the Portales High School head football coach. “Down south, we’ve always had to travel. That’s something that southeastern New Mexico has had to do for many years.”
“A lot of time. A lot of money. Our budget was strained with that,” said Matt Martinez, Cleveland High’s Athletic Director. “In New Mexico, you have to travel wherever you need to play. It doesn’t make a difference in any sport that we play. We travel all over the place. We travel to Las Cruces. We travel to Hobbs. We travel to the Farmington area.”
NMAA leaders said the changes this year are due in part to football teams asking for more teams in each district. That’s because some of them said they have been struggling to schedule enough opponents to play against.
“There are some schools in different parts of the state where they do not have schools to play that are in the same classification. That is where the travel comes from,” NMAA Executive Director Sally Marquez said. “You mentioned Silver City – what other schools around there can they play?”
Marquez said the NMAA wants a level playing field. They look at enrollment numbers to make sure matchups are as fair as possible.