For the past week, anyone going to the AYF Olympics in Philadelphia was a bit worried. The long-range forecast showed rain Thursday through Monday. We were concerned about the games being rained out. Weather forecasting is a fickle type of prognostication and often, as was the case this weekend, they were wrong. Except for a delay in the tennis competition, everything went off as expected. The softball games on Saturday were played under overcast skies that actually kept the heat lower. On Sunday, we were all delighted that we dodged the rain but that changed when the heat and humidity were both in the high eighties. It was a good though sweltering day.
Sunday is the Track and Field Day. Given that over 230 athletes participated in these games, the march was quite impressive. Master of Ceremonies and Co-Chair of the 2018 Olympic Steering Committee, Shant Aghajanian, welcomed one and all and spoke about the wonderful 85-year legacy of the Armenian Youth Federation, and how it continues to mean so much to so many of us. His Eminence Archbishop Oshagan Choloyan blessed the AYF Olympic Games and athletes for the last time. His words of encouragement and inspiration will be missed in the years to come. Representatives of the ARF, ARS, Hamazkayin, and Homenetmen all spoke. Perennial PA Announcer and Olympic King, Alec Sarafian, said that the AYF Central Executive had dedicated the Track and Field part of the Olympics in honor of Aram “Sonny” Gavoor who had coached the Detroit teams for thirty years. The entire Detroit team donned t-shirts with “It’s Always Sonny” on the front and “Gavoor” on the back.
The long jump, triple jump, shot put, and discus were all under way early in the morning, well before the opening ceremonies. As the track events began in earnest, it was clear that Boston and Philadelphia were going to battle it out for first and second with Detroit and New Jersey doing the same for third and fourth places. The athletes were inspired and fought the heat and fatigue to do their best for themselves and their teams. In the end, Philadelphia edged Boston but not until the final relays of the day. Similarly, in the fight for third place New Jersey bested Detroit in the last events of the day. This is the second win in a row for Philadelphia. If they win again next year in Chicago, they will retire the cup. Coach Dave Papazian is probably already thinking about that!
Anoush Krafian of Greater Boston broke the Women’s High Jump record set by Detroit’s Carol Misserlian in the 1976 Providence Olympic Games. Anoush went on to become a high-scorer in these games. She was joined as a high-scorer by Andrew Devedjian of Chicago and Lilly Kerneghan of Providence. It was the second time that Anoush was a high-scorer, and Andrew’s first time.
The winners were announced and the trophies were passed out at the Sunday Night Olympic Ball. The Grand Ballroom at the Marriott was jammed with AYFers of all ages. The dance floor was full and why not? It was a special evening as The Fabulous Vosbikian Band teamed up with Onnik and Ara Dinkjian to provide that good old fashioned Armenian dance music that has been the trademark of the Olympic Ball for 85 years. Everyone was in the most festive mood as we all celebrated the Olympics, the accomplishments of the athletes and the teams, the long history of the AYF, and the sheer pleasure of enjoying our heritage together. The Ball was a beautiful conclusion to a very well planned Olympic Weekend.