Friday at Olympics 2021

While I am not there, I am writing the piece while watching the Kevork Artinian band on the Facebook Live feed of the Friday Night Alumni Dance. What a treat especially seeing my friend Mher Mnatsakanyan playing the duduk with the group for the first few selections and seeing people dance. Earlier the Fabulous Vosbikian Band performed. The idea of the live feed is the next best thing to being there. The Sunday Games will be on Facebook Live.

Besides the always popular Alumni Dance, Friday is also the first full day of competition at the AYF Olympics with golf, tennis and swimming. It was a gorgeous day in Providence as the intense rains of Hurricane Ida moved out yesterday.

Beginning with golf, on the men’s side, Hagop Taraksian continued his reign as champion. The medal winners and point scorers are:

  1. Hagop Taraksian – Providence
  2. Jason Pjojian – Providence
  3. Stefan Ayanian – NJ
  4. Garik Kazanjian – NJ

The New Jersey women continue to dominate.

  1. Mia Setrakian – NJ 
  2. Kira Ariyan – NJ 
  3. Giselle Krikorian – Granite City
  4. Katia Ariyan – NJ

    Women’s tennis: Mia Setrakian (NJ), Kira Ariyan (NJ), Giselle Krikorian (Granite City) and Katia Ariyan (NJ)

Moving to golf there was excellent participation for both the men and women. For the ladies, it was a medal sweep for New Jersey:

  1. Theresa Jelalian – NJ 
  2. Shayna McCarthy – NJ 
  3. Victoria Ezgilioglu – NJ 
  4. Nairi Karafian – Boston

For the men, here are the top four golfers:

  1. Alex Kassabian – NY 
  2. Aram Ouligian – Boston 
  3. Kyle Niffin – Detroit 
  4. Meran Topalian – Providence

My sources report that Kassabian shot a blistering 69!

Men’s golf: Meran Topalian, Kyle Niffin, Alex Kassabian, Aram Ouligian

Swimming took place outside as it did in 2015 when the Olympics were last in Providence.  Unfortunately, at the time of writing this article, we are not able to share any results, but we do have some photos.

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Friday evening is also when the Olympic Kings and Queens and the Varadian Spirit Award winners are announced. As Providence is such a strong AYF town, their choices are always nationally known and well deserving AYF devotees. This year was no different. They named three Kings and a Queen:

Steve Mesrobian
Nancy Nahigian
Ken Topalian
Michael Varadian

There were three recipients of the Varadian Spirit Award.

Shooshig Agnes Aghjayan
Joyce Bagdasarian
John Mangassarian

Nareh Mkrtschjan, Araxie Tossounian, Michael Varadian, Shooshig Agnes Aghjayan, John Mangassarian, Alex Manoukian, Steve Mesrobian, Aram Balian (Photo: GVK Images)

Lastly, Armenian Weekly assistant editor Leeza Arakelian provided these wonderful observations and quotes.

In the afternoon, she stopped by the Providence Hilton to drop off this week’s issues of the Weekly at the Welcome Desk, where she met the yet to be named Varadian Spirit award recipient John Mangassarian. He noted there had been a steady flow of visitors, many who were interested in our community publication. “The ones that are interested in the Weekly are obviously interested in the Providence article by Harry Derderian!” 

Varadian Spirit Award recipient John Mangassarian working the Welcoming Desk

While the swimming was about competing and winning, it was also one big pool party with lots of joyful reunions. “I’m really excited to finally be back at Olympics,” exclaimed Rita Bahnan (Worcester “Aram”), “It is long overdue. We needed that AYF fire to come back. We are ready for this year and ready for Worcester 2022.”

It’s Sevan Zobian’s last year as a member of the AYF Providence “Varantian” Chapter. Sporting a washed off tricolor tattoo, he reflected on 18 years in the organization before diving into the breaststroke, butterfly and relay competitions. “It’s bittersweet,” he said, “I’d say the connections we make are the most memorable and the most important.”

Alique Stepanian is a junior at Belmont High School and competing at her first Senior Olympics. She started swimming on a tag team when she was six years old. “I really love the competitiveness of it… the whole atmosphere. It’s fun to be around people with different speeds. It’s really exciting to be at Senior Olympics. It’s cool to be involved in everything that the AYF does for the Armenian community.”

On Saturday at the Olympics, there is the basketball tournament along with the softball games and picnic. It should be another sunny day in the 70s; a perfect AYF Olympics day.

I wish to thank the Governing Body members, Steve Elmasian, Ani Niffin, Nancy Gavoor, Tamar Kanarian and Leeza Arakelian for supplying the information and photos for this daily update article.

Mark Gavoor
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.
Mark Gavoor

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  1. Nice going, Mark- not easy to do when you’re not there. . .great way to deal with your disappointment of not being able to attend and the rest of us enjoy your reporting 👌🇦🇲

  2. So grateful for the both the Armenian Weekly coverage and the live Facebook videos. Feels like I’m there! Make memories everyone and enjoy the hospitality of the Providence Varantians! Christine Varadian Johnsen

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