“….I could never give back enough for what I gained from AYF…” That’s what Mike Shamlian said after he was chosen Olympic king along with his longtime close friend Rich Keshgegian. “It is truly special.”
Shamlian was a member of the Philadelphia Papken Suni Junior Chapter from the mid-1980s and continued through the late-1990s as a Senior member of the Philadelphia Sebouh Chapter. He consistently participated in AYF Olympics over the years as a member, specifically in the javelin and shot put events, medaling in Boston (1989) and Chicago (1991).
Shamlian was a dominant player on the Philadelphia AYF basketball team. He and Keshgegian were the major reason for all those Papken Suni championships.
Shamlian has also served on numerous Philadelphia Olympic Committees over the years. He was chairman of the 1995 Transportation committee; co-chair of the 2002 and 2010 Concessions committee, and chair of this year’s Concessions committee. He’s the consummate volunteer especially at St. Gregory’s Church, where he served on the Board of Directors from 1998-2003. Shamlian was also a member of the AYF Camp Haiastan Board of Directors from 2008-2014, and he continues to contribute to Camp Haiastan as member of the Building Committee. Today, Shamlian is still involved in his chapter, working to ensure the youth develop the same love and respect for the AYF. He’s married to the former Karine Alemian (Washington, D.C AYF); they met at Camp Haiastan, like so many other camp romances and marriages. They have two sons, Haig Kevork (13) and Nishan Krikor (11).
“Rich Kesh” has been an active member of the Philly Juniors and has served in countless roles in the Papken Suni seniors. A consistent Olympic participant in throwing and relay events, he, like Shamlian, was a key player on the Papken Suni basketball teams, consistent off the boards.
“This is special,” he said, “to be associated with previous Olympic kings, known Olympic standouts. It is especially great to share this with Mike, my boyhood AYF brother,” said Keshgegian.
Keshgegian was 1995 olympic co-chair with Glenn Papazian and served in multiple capacities for the 2002 and 2010 Olympics.
Right now, Keshgegian is serving on the Governing Body. He and his wife Dori (Avedesian, Detroit AYF) met at Junior Seminar. They have four spirited, lifetime AYFers: Avi, 27; Karine, 26; Aram, 22; Anto, 21. Papazian recalls that Keshgegian’s parents were also king and queen back in the day. “Quite a testimony to his parents and to Rich for keeping family tradition burning strong with his AYF spirit and community engagement,” said Papazian.