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About a year ago, on a nice February Saturday, as I was driving near the New Mexico State University campus, I said, “I should go to Presley Askew Field and check out the Aggies’ baseball team and their star, Nick Gonzales.”
Then I looked at my to-do list and said, “Better not. I can go later in the season when it’s a little warmer.”
Alas, the season was soon canceled, along with all other sports, and nobody could watch – or play – any games for a long time.
Live sports are back for NMSU, but not on campus, or anywhere in New Mexico. Here’s an incomplete review of what you’ve missed, what all of us -- except the teams, and maybe Jack Nixon -- have missed.
The Aggie women’s volleyball team, as of this writing, are undefeated 7-0 on the season, all conference games. That 7th victory was the 500th for Coach Mike Jordan. It feels like Jordan and his exciting teams have always been a bit underappreciated, so it’s bittersweet he hit this milestone with no Aggie fans to watch.
PLAYING ON SUNDAYS
There’s a common phrase you hear from sportscasters during college football games on television: “This kid’s going to be playing Sundays,” a reference to a player being good enough to go to the NFL, where games are played on Sunday.
Well, this year, the whole Aggie football team is good enough to play on Sunday. To be specific, Sunday, Feb. 20. NMSU played a “home” game at UTEP’s Sun Bowl, hosting Tarleton State, a Texas team. It wasn’t a joyous return to the field for the Aggies, as they lost 43-17, but after more than a year without being able to play a game, the athletes were just grateful to get back to doing what they love to do. They get to do it again in the Sun Bowl 3 p.m. Sunday, March 7, against Dixie State.
Last fall, the Aggie basketball teams trucked west to set up camp in the Phoenix area, after the governor shut things down in New Mexico. Basically, they’ve become permanent road teams, and being nomads with no home-court advantage is difficult, to say the least. The Aggies finally found another ‘home,” playing at Eastwood High School in El Paso.
Due to COVID-19 issues, both the men’s and women’s teams have had to cancel or postpone games. The Aggie men have had to call off eight games, and the women, five. The Aggie women are 5-10 on the season, and the men are 6-6. Having a losing conference record is not like Aggie men’s basketball, but after their last three losses, they’ve come back the next night and avenged the loss. If they could win the conference tournament, they could still make it to the NCAAs.
As weird as this year has been, the only thing we can expect is the unexpected.