Olympic Kings: Chicago’s Raffi Killian, Granite City’s Jeff Hagopian

2019 AYF Olympic Kings, Raffi Killian & Jeff Hagopian (Photo: Mark Gavoor)

The Killian family certainly has a respected place in the Chicago community scene.

Following in the footsteps of his father Ara and grandfather Arshag, Raffi was named this year’s Olympic King.

Like Ara, he was recognized not only for his athletic achievement, but continued community and regional endeavors.

Raffi competed notably and was a consistent top scorer in the running events as a Junior and later as a Senior, capping his senior AYF athletic participation by winning the pentathlon in 2003 and totaling 78 points in senior competition. 

He is Chicago’s top scorer in AYF Olympic competition.

“Mid-west Junior Olympics is a super memory, as any family who has been there will tell you…my greatest memory though was coaching our senior team to its only Olympic win which was in 2004,” Raffi remembers.

“…it was a super day as we (brothers Armen and Ari, Hagop Soulakian) saw the results of our coaching efforts, building on the efforts of those who came before us…,” he added.

Beyond his athletic achievements, Raffi has regionally served on several councils and on AYF-CE as well as being a long time ANC activist. He is the lead energy and vision behind the highly visible Arajamugh development program as well as being a committee member of the ACAA Artsakh Fund.

Raffi is a project manager, lives with his wife Paula in London, England, and works in the new investments field for Round Hill Capitol, a prominent real estate management firm specializing in the UK and European markets.

Our “uncle Raffi”—ably assisted by brothers Ari and Armen— carry forth the Killian legacy in a proud and meaningful manner.

In another part of Illinois in the proud community of Granite City, the Hagopian name has a respected place.

Our next Olympic King, Jeff Hagopian, is a native of Granite City and was a Granite City AYF “Antranig” member, participating and earning points and medals in shot put as well as golf.

He also served on local AYF executive and later advisor to juniors and seniors.

“We certainly knew we had no chance to win senior Olympics given our size, but we always tried to participate to show Granite City spirit,” said Jeff. “We feel a great deal of pride in our small, family community.”

Jeff has always been active both locally and regionally, serving as a former AYF-CE member, consistently participating in church activities and continuing the Olympic Spirit by serving as a Governing Body member. 

“Participating in junior and senior Olympics is great fun, but any experience in AYF is meaningful with friendships that last a lifetime. Camp was the first blast,” expressed Jeff.

Jeff and his wife Lynn are day to day active members of the Granite City community with daughters Michelle and Megan following in their parents’ footsteps.

Jeff has passed along his Olympic drive to his children; Megan participated in Olympics for many years  and daughter Michelle is a top female scorer in AYF Olympic history with an astounding 156 points.

Photo: Sona Gevorkian

Harry Derderian

Harry Derderian is a native of Indian Orchard, Mass and resident of S. Lyon, Mich. He is a member of the marketing faculty at Eastern Michigan University as well as an adjunct professor of business at Schoolcraft Community College.

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