Friday is when the AYF Olympics swing into full gear. The day began with the Tennis players and golfers gathering in the lobby, getting coffee, and preparing to leave for the courts and course. It was a perfect day for both golf and tennis. It was a mostly sunny day in the mid-70s with a slight breeze.
Here are some highlights of the day. More detailed coverage will be provided in the Olympics Special Issue of the Armenian Weekly.
Golf: Ken Topalian of the Governing Body organized both the AYF and Alumni participants into a shotgun start at the Warren Valley Golf Course in Dearborn Heights. Seven men and four women participated in the AYF Golf competition. They were joined by 40 alumni golfers. This total of 51 golfers is an AYF record. Among the golfers was 1975 Olympic Queen Rosemary Panosian, who is most likely the oldest golfer ever to participate in this tourney and, per her threesome, had an awesome round.
The Women’s results:
1- Michelle Hagopian, Granite City
2- Lauren Yangouyian, Detroit
3- Ani Hackett, Greater Boston
4- Joclyn Chopjian, Detroit
The Men’s results:
1- Peter Tashjian, Philadelphia
2- Mark Santerian, Philadelphia
3- Chris Attar, Detroit
4- Michael Haase, Detroit
Tennis: The tennis matches were on the courts of Dearborn’s Edsel Ford High School. Governing body member Rich Sarajian organized the men’s and women’s tournaments. There was some great play and hotly contested matches.
Stephanie Dolik (Detroit) edged out Olivia Barberian (North Andover) to take the Women’s Gold. Stephanie and Olivia have battled for first and second place in the past few years. This year, Stephanie just made a few more shots. Young Aram Najarian (Detroit) took the Men’s Gold. This very talented newbie beat his competitor Matthew Tarzian (N.J.) to win handily.
Swimming: The entire governing body was involved in running the swimming events held at the Aquatic Center of the Livonia Community Center. They did a beautiful job getting the entire competition done in record time. Detroit, Philadelphia, New Jersey, and Providence all had strong teams.
Lynne Tutunjian (Providence), Faye Khatchadourian (Montreal), Meline Topouzian (Detroit), Nevart Varadian (Providence), and Lauren Greenhaigh (Worcester) all had a strong day. On the men’s side, young Patrice Melikian (Greater Boston) made a wonderful showing, as did Adam Boyajian (N.J.), John Mahlebjian (North Andover), Nick Dolik (Detroit), and Mark Santerian, (Philadelphia).
Friday Night Dance: The idea of an Alumni Dance originated in Detroit with the 1975 Olympics and it was an immediate hit. The 2014 Olympic Games marks the 39th Anniversary of what has become a cornerstone event for many that attend the Olympics. This year, the committee put a different twist on the event. All were invited to what was being called the Alumni Dance and AYF Party. It all took place in the Adoba Grand Ballroom. The first half was the more traditional Alumni Dance which flowed seamlessly into the AYF Party. It was a great design and spectacular success. Per the old saying, a good time was had by one and all.
The Alumni Committee of Ani Attar and Carolyn Sirian outdid themselves in providing a delicious buffet dinner and desert table, enjoyed by the hundreds of people in attendance. The Music Committee of Michael Kazarian and Ara Topouzian organized a perfect line-up for the evening. For the Alumni portion of the evening, the band comprised of Hachig Kazarian, Richard Hagopian, Jason Naroyan, and Mal Barsamian. Hachig had recently moved from Las Vegas back to his hometown of Detroit. He was joined by his longtime friend and Detroit favorite Richard Hagopian. Everyone enjoyed listening to the traditional kef style offerings of these two iconic musicians. As Philadelphia is the center of Armenian music in the Eastern U.S., the committee tapped the Artsakh band to follow Hachig and Richard. In a wonderful transition, the Artsakh band of Steve Vosbikian, Aram Hovagimian, Jim Kizirian, and Antranig Kizirian joined Hachig, Richard, Jason, and Mal on stage for one number. It was very special, so much so that Richard Kamar noted, “It is as if they were passing the baton.” Both bands, as they say, rocked the joint.
This year, the committee also decided to move part of the opening ceremonies to the Alumni Dance. Ara Topouzian expertly emceed the short program. Archbishop Oshagan Choloyan, Prelate of the Armenian Apostolic Church in the Eastern U.S., gave his address and invocation to the hushed crowd. He encouraged the athletes and everyone else, all children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren of the survivors, to do their best in whatever we do. He urged us to support all of the events that will commemorate the 100th Anniversary of the Genocide. Sylva Bedian and Aram Hovagimian presented the greetings and well wishes for the ARS Central Executive and ARF Central Committee respectively.
One of the highlights of the Friday night Alumni dance was the presentation of the Varadian Spirit Award. Topouzian was joined by Michael Varadian representing the Varadian Family. This year’s most deserving recipient was Karen Hagopian. As is always the case with this special award, Karen was totally surprised and overwhelmed with this honor. It was a memorable moment.
It was a great date at the 81st Annual AYF Olympics in Detroit.