The Detroit AYF softball team came, saw and conquered.
On Saturday of the AYF Olympics, Detroit claimed the title in the AYF softball tournament at East Greenwich High School, finishing off their run with a 14-4 win over the defending champion Western Region in the semifinal and a 14-3 win over Greater Boston in the championship.
Detroit outscored opponents 63-11 in the tournament during their dominant run.
“Though the results showed our strong wins, every team we played during our four-game stretch presented unique challenges for us, and none of our games were easy,” said third baseman Vahan Cholakian. “Many of us have been playing softball with each other for multiple years, so we are all comfortable playing together and understanding our strengths and weaknesses.”
Detroit’s camaraderie stood out during the tournament as the players wore uniforms similar to Major League Baseball’s Detroit Tigers and blasted music throughout the games to hype each other up.
“We were able to feed off the energy from our Detroit alumni in the stands and the most recent alumni in our dugout coaching us, giving us words of encouragement, and playing Armenian and American music to really keep the momentum going,” Cholakian said.
“We love being with one another,” said Araxie Tossounian. “The Detroit chapter has so much fun simply being in one another’s presence whether it’s at a meeting or a game of softball. We love hanging out with one another. We love cheering each other on and laughing with one another and making sure every single one of us is having the time of our lives.”
Following a dominating 24-2 win in the opening round over Washington DC, Detroit took care of the host chapter Providence 11-2 in the quarterfinals before knocking off the defending champion Western Region. Despite the distance between Detroit and the West Coast, there was a strong connection between the two squads.
“Many of us Detroit chapter members have a close relationship with the West Coast members,” Cholakian said. “Many of our parents are close because a few Western Region parents are transplants from Detroit, and it’s a lot of fun when we compete against each other. It’s tough, though, because at the end of the day, there needs to be one winner and one loser. But, I would be lying to you if I didn’t say it felt good to beat West Coast because they always bring a highly competitive game.”
Then in the final, Detroit knocked off Boston with ease, securing them the championship. The “Nejdeh” Chapter, which was sporting brand new striped red team jerseys with Պոսթոն emblazoned on the front, scored 56 runs in the first three games leading up to the final, but only managed to bring home three in the championship.
“I do know from personal experience how competitive the Boston chapter can get, and I knew they’d be a challenge,” said first-year player David Armen Coburn. “After seeing how well our team could play, I just knew we had it in the bag. Even though it got chippy at times, we took the hardware home.”
In the end, the friendships and camaraderie trumped any sort of hardware for the champions from Detroit, especially after a difficult year in Armenia and Artsakh riddled with war and COVID-19.
“It meant a lot to see the strength of our community come together after such a hard year between what has happened in Armenia and Artsakh,” Coburn said. “These events that bring us together just prove how strong we are as a people.”
“There is a special strength in simply being together at Olympics. Armenian pride, passion and commitment continue to triumph,” Cholakian added.
After nine years of manning third base for Detroit, Cholakian is looking forward to taking on a role as a mentor at future Olympics, beginning in Worcester next year.
“Next year, as an AYF alum, I will be in the dugout supporting Detroit softball as so many have done for me. I’m looking forward to watching future Detroiters compete, build friendships and create everlasting memories.”