The re-branded 2017 AYF-YOARF (Armenian Youth Federation – Youth Organization of the ARF) National Athletic Tournament (NATs) was hosted by the Philadelphia “Sebouh” chapter on Feb. 17-20.
AYF members from across the U.S. traveled to the City of Brotherly Love for the intense basketball and volleyball competition that the NATs are known for. The tournament, which is typically held in March, was moved to February, with competition extended to two days.
Arriving early at the Competitive Edge Sports Facility, Washington D.C.’s squad faced back-to-back games against North Andover and New York. Both games ended in defeat for the D.C. team.
Meanwhile, New Jersey put up an unexpectedly strong fight against the Philadelphia host chapter, but was unable to overcome the home court advantage provided by Philly’s fans. New Jersey bounced back on their next match against North Andover and Providence defeated New York, while Boston, Detroit, and the California guest team made easy strides over their first round opponents.
The usually strong Boston team was handed a nail-biting 45-43 upset by Detroit and later New Jersey inserted the final dagger to send the shell-shocked Bostonians home. Providence took an early lead in their close matchup against California, but the traveling guests surged ahead and pulled off the win with no signs of jetlag.
In fact, the Californians continued their winning streak against New Jersey and Philadelphia. The hosts put up an impressive fight in a 42-41 score that sent California through to meet an undefeated Detroit in the final championship match.
Playing point guard for California, Raffi Chalian put up a dazzling show, but the squad appeared shallow and outmatched by an experienced and athletic Detroit team that took home the trophy with a 54-34 annihilation of the sunny Californians.
The women’s tournament is always full of surprises. The tournament started off with a matchup between Philly and the mixed “Lime & Salt” team; consisting of Ungerouhis from Worcester, North Andover, D.C. and California.
Although the mixed team started out with a tough loss in the first round, they used their team strength to move forward and win against Boston, New Jersey, and Detroit. For the first time, the mixed team went on to the finals, facing the undefeated Philadelphia team. After playing four previous games, the mixed team was definitely fatigued. However, they did not let that get in the way of the hard fight they put up against the five person Philly team. The lack of a bench was not a problem for Philly though, considering the athletic prowess of the tournament MVP, Victoria Selverian.
The Volleyball tournament commenced early Sunday morning, with the mix team facing the well-represented North Andover “Sasoun” chapter. Although North Andover did not walk away with any wins during weekend, their overall presences on and off the court was one that we hope to see in the years to come.
The inexperienced mixed team, comprised of members from Worcester, Chicago, and New York went on to face and defeat the four time volleyball champions, the New Jersey “Arsen” chapter. The Washington D.C chapter kept their reputation of being volleyball fanatics with their undefeated record bringing them to the finals against the underdog mixed team, who called themselves “Libnan.” Although the mixed team put up a great fight, the D.C Ani’s spikes lead to a championship trophy for the first time in years.
The newly formatted weekend was deemed a great success, which was apparent from all the represented chapters and spectators. The hotel’s happy hour was the perfect atmosphere for the post game show highlights and socialization, especially on Saturday at the ARF/AYF mixer that was scheduled by the ARF Eastern Region Central Committee and AYF-YOARF Central Executive.
The full dance floor proved that Kevork Artinian and Friends served as the perfect entertainment for Sunday night. A big “thank you” to all the members, alumni, and the Philadelphia “Sebouh” chapter and the Central Athletic Committee for smoothly running such an impressive weekend.