AYF Olympics Rewind: The Central Athletic Council’s Video Project

We are pleased to report that the AYF has another project in the works with a similar objective to ours: to keep the AYF Olympic spirit going during this year of no Olympics. The Central Athletic Council (CAC) will be producing videos commemorating the AYF Olympics. There will be three videos ranging from five to ten minutes. The group wants to cover athletics, dances and the general camaraderie that we have all come to value over the years.

The committee working on this project includes:

Ida Barsoumian – Boston, CAC Chair
Aram Balian – Central Executive (CE) Representative
Ema Bandazian – New Jersey
Aren Dakessian – West Coast
Daron Hamparian – Boston
Masis Mardirosian – Philadelphia
Hagop Taraksian – Providence
Knar Topouzian – Detroit

I learned about this wonderful idea last week when I got a call from Knar Topouzian. She was looking for access to any and all photos we have of the Olympics since our team took over the reporting of the Olympics for the Weekly from Tom Vartabedian back in 2014. It’s great that our wealth of photos are finally in the hands of the AYF and being put to good use.

Detroit Freestyle Relay (pictured L-R) Araxie Tossunian, Patil Tcholakian, Knar Topouzian, Taline Bedirian, 84th Annual AYF Olympics

The CAC is interviewing people around the country and trying to involve all chapters. For example, Knar lives in Detroit. She is filming interviews of Olympic Queens and Kings in Detroit along with other high scorers and record holders. We are intentionally not naming names to keep it on the vague side so that the videos are fresh and surprising when we all see it. The same is being done by all the committee members in their chapters. They are enlisting friends and chapter executives to cover their hometowns. Aren Dakessian’s recruitment is a promising sign from the West Coast AYF since their attendance and participation in the Olympics has grown so much.

They are also collecting photos to use in the videos. Again, Knar would not be specific on how they would use the photos. I am guessing as montage interludes between the interviews and such. I have to admire their use of mystery as a marketing ploy.

Knar noted, “While it has been a disappointing year, this project is allowing us to document the history and contribution of our noted alumni. Our goal, like that of the Armenian Weekly…is to keep the Olympic spirit alive. The videos we are collecting have made us reflect on how fortunate we are to have alumni that have paved the way to make the AYF Olympics the special event it is for all of us. Our committee is in awe of the stories and feelings that we are collecting about the Olympics and the role it played in making our lives more Armenian. In our committee, the excitement and momentum is building and we can’t wait to share the videos.”

The videos will be unveiled on social media over Labor Day weekend when we should have been in Worcester at the Olympics. The CAC videos and the Special Issue of the Armenian Weekly will bridge us to the 87th Games in 2021 in Worcester.

1961 Olympic King Armen Topouzian

It was a pleasure talking to Knar. Her grandfather, Armen Topouzian, was an Olympic King and a business mentor of mine. The Gavoors and Topouzians have been friends since the 1950s when Armen participated in his first Olympics representing the Utica Chapter. During that Olympics, Armen was adopted by the Watertown Gaidzag team which included Olympic Kings Sonny and Buddy Gavoor. They became lifelong friends. The AYF bonds are indeed deep and strong.

Please forward photo submissions to cac.olympicsvideo@gmail.com and also don’t forget to send your stories and memories to the Weekly editor@armenianweekly.com. These are both projects worthy of your time and contributions.

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Mark Gavoor is Associate Professor of Operations Management in the School of Business and Nonprofit Management at North Park University in Chicago. He is an avid blogger and oud player.

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