Friday at the 2022 AYF Olympics

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tee shot

Athletics started in earnest on Friday at the AYF Olympics. It was a near perfect day with temperatures in the 70’s and cloudless skies.

Waiting to handle their carts

We got up early for golf and tennis. After having breakfast with Ara Topouzian and Ken and Alexan Topalian, we headed to the Heritage Country Club for the golf tournament for an 8 am start. There were a large number of participants from AYFers and alumni. It is particularly notable that there were 11 female AYF members playing. We haven’t had such a high number for maybe a decade. As of this writing, we only have results for women’s golf.

Sonia Tchilingarian (NY) and Natalie Kouyoumjian (Boston)
  1. Therese Jelalian, New Jersey
  2. Celeste Simone Ayjian, Philadelphia
  3. Nairi Krafian, Boston
  4. Katia Ariyan, New Jersey

AYF tennis was held at the scenic Lake Park in Worcester. Again, there was as high a turnout as we have seen in recent years. There were some good matches. The one that sticks out in my mind was Manhattan Chapter’s Alec Soghomonian taking on Providence’s Matt Boghossian in the quarter-finals. Both men are good solid defensive players. It seemed like every point involved incredibly long volleys. They were so well matched as players that the match ended in a tiebreaker. In the end, Boghossian edged out Soghomonian to advance to the semi-finals. The semis were all Providence, and we’ll have to check with our Olympic statistician Bob Tutunjian to see if that’s happened before. Defending champion Hagop Taraksian again won the gold medal. It was his sixth in a row, which is probably close to a record as well.

Hagop Taraksian about to put one away

On the women’s side, New Jersey again dominated. But, instead of sweeping all the points as they have done a few times in recent years, they took second, third and fourth places. First place went to Giselle Krikorian of Granite City who edged out Kira Ariyan in the final match.

Garo and Galin Tashian, tennis spectators

When the tennis was over, we went to the Clark University pool for the swim meet. There are a lot of points to be had in swimming. Providence, Boston, Philadelphia, Detroit and New Jersey were all looking to do well and go into track and field events with a lead if they could. Point tallies weren’t shared at the event, but I guess Providence did pretty well. Why? They had the only two top scorers: Courtney Boghosian and Gor Bagumyan. They also won both mixed relays, giving them 50 points from the spot.

Courtney Boghosian

The next step was the dance of the elders. The Worcester community has prepared a nice variety of Armenian delicacies for all to enjoy. It is a wonderful tradition that is as old as the dance of the elders. Each community is proud of it and works hours to prepare, install and serve. Worcester has certainly lived up to the high standards that have been set in this regard.

The music was provided by Ensemble Nor Kef, the youngest generation in 20 years to play our music. The four-piece band consisted of Michael Kamalian (clarinet), Datev Gevorkian (oud), Sam Sjostedt (guitar) and Alec Surenian (dumbeg). They were very good and very talented. They will also play picnic softball on Saturday. It is certain that we will see and hear many more of these musicians in the future. You may remember that Surenian, Gevorkian and Sjostedt recently toured Armenia, of which you can read two articles in Armenian Weekly: Introducing Armadi Tsayn and Bringing Diaspora Sounds Home.

John Merian and Rich Kanarian

At the end of the Dance of the Elders, the Olympic Kings and Queens as well as the recipients of the Varadian Spirit Award were named. This year, three Kings and a Queen have been named:

  • Levon Katchadoorian
  • Richard Ovian
  • Debbie Katchadoorian
  • Richard Tachjian

The Varadian Spirit Awards were presented to:

  • George Aghayan
  • Varsenig (Dusty) Cotter

In any city, there is great applause when these awards and honors are bestowed. But, as it has been 48 years since the last Olympic Games were held in Worcester, I believe the applause was even more enthusiastic in Worcester tonight.

Recipients of the Kings, Queen and Varadian Spirit Award

Then, the AYF Gala in the same room with the Yerakouyn Band, which includes Shant Massoyan (guitar and vocals), his brother Raffi Massoyan (oud), Steve Vosbikian (clarinet) and Aram Hovagimian (keyboard). They were simply superb. The dance floor was full until the wee hours of the morning.

Raffi Massoyan and Steve Vosbikian

On Saturday, we look forward to the softball and basketball tournaments during the day and Elie Berberyan and his gang in the evening.

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Mark Gavoor is associate professor of operations management in the School of Business and Nonprofit Management at North Park University in Chicago. He is an avid blogger and oud player.

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