AYF-YOARF National Athletic Tournament 2018: Back Where It All Began

By ungerouhi Rita Bahnan

Worcester? Woosta? Worchester? Where on earth?

On Jan. 14, 1933, the Armenian Youth Federation (AYF) was born. Well, Worcester, Mass. just happens to be where a lot of the groundwork of the Armenian Youth Federation of the United States began (no big deal…kinda). Holding the title of the first chapter of the Armenian Youth Federation in the U.S., the Worcester “Aram” chapter has had many expectations to live up to. Although the “Aram” chapter may have decreased in size over the years, the comradery of the chapter has only continued to grow.

The AYF-YOARF NATs took place Feb. 16-19 in Worcester, Mass. (Photo: AYF)

In 2017, the Worcester “Aram” chapter was asked to host the AYF-YOARF annual National Athletic Tournament (NATs) in 2018. The last time the chapter had hosted NATs was in 2009. Undoubtedly, hosting such a large-scale event for the first time in years was quite the task to take on for a chapter of less than 30 members. However, the Worcester Arams felt that hosting NATs in the city where the first AYF chapter of the U.S.A. was established would bring a special sense of unity and home to our fellow ungers (comrades).

Many of us are used to our regional and national events being hosted in larger cities (i.e. Boston, New Jersey, Philadelphia, Detroit, etc.). The perks of hosting an event in a smaller city is that the people, athletic facilities, and venues are all in close proximity. The first night of the weekend, on Friday, was held in the ballroom of the Hilton Garden Inn downtown, featuring DJ Chris “kidbibz” Habibian (a Worcester “Aram” alumnus) and DJ Joe Tagessian.

On the following day, the basketball games commenced for the weekend. Ungers and ungerouhis shed sweat, blood, and tears, leading some to losses and others to championships. To end the day of multiple intense games, the Saturday night event was again held in the ballroom at the main hotel, the Hilton Garden Inn. Ungers and ungerouhis had a blast dancing to songs performed by singer Jaq Hagopian.

At the crack of dawn on Sunday morning, the volleyball games took place. On their own turf, the Worcester “Aram” chapter (mixed team) were crowned the champions! Fun fact: The Worcester “Aram” chapter won every single event at the first Olympics in 1934, setting an unsurpassable record. To follow volleyball, the last day of basketball games took place. Although many potential Kyries [NBA star Kyrie Irving] were on the court, only one team could take home the ‘ship.

In the men’s tournament, the Boston A team took home the first place trophy named in memory of the late unger Mark Alashaian, while New Jersey came in second, and our ungers from the Western U.S. came in third. For the ladies’, Philadelphia placed first, Detroit placed second, and New Jersey captured third. A special shout out to the most valuable players of the weekend: ungerouhi Victoria Selverian and unger Alex Voskanian.

Bravo and congratulations to all athletes–each one of you is an MVP in Worcester’s eyes!

The AYF-YOARF NATs took place Feb. 16-19 in Worcester, Mass. (Photo: AYF)

Upon some last minute changes, Sunday night was hosted at the music lounge, Electric Haze. The venue reached maximum capacity and the event itself certainly ended the weekend with a bang. Worcester was lucky to have DJ Chris “kidbibz” Habibian as the entertainer again, featuring a mix of many genres of music, including heghapoghakan (Armenian patriotic songs). The last night of the weekend was Worcester’s treat of sending our ungers off with sore feet, no voices, and great memories—with even better company! The night was truly electric.

What was most imperative in making this event a success was the aid and support from the community. The Worcester “Aram” chapter extends our deepest love and gratitude to our fellow ungers, friends, family, and everyone who contributed to this event. Every single hand on deck and participant is what made this weekend an incredible success, and the Worcester Arams cannot thank everyone enough for partaking. We look forward to hosting our next event and seeing all of your beautiful faces again!

Guest Contributor

Guest Contributor

Guest contributions to the Armenian Weekly are informative articles or press releases written and submitted by members of the community.

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