Providence: Three more kings, one more queen

Once again, as it hosted its 12th olympics, Providence extended a touch of royalty to multiple former Olympic participants by recognizing Nancy Nahigian Tavitian, Ken Topalian, Steve Mesrobian and Mike Varadian.

The Green Machine and the Olympics have now saluted 17 kings and five queens who participated in the games and stayed in the starting lineup as consistent volunteers and encouraged community youth.

Generation to generation, it’s been a crisp handoff of the “baton of participation” from community forefathers.

By all measures, Nancy Nahigian Tavitian is aptly following Maro Kachadourian’s selection in 2015, as well as earlier activists Margaret Stepanian, Virginia Madoian and Sylvia Simonian.

Tavitian was an active member of the Providence AYF, serving on the executive and competing as a versatile Olympic athlete. She contributed points in a number of events which included baseball throw, golf and shotput; she was also part of the softball team.

“I am so thrilled to receive this, especially with Ken, Mike and Steve,” said Tavitian. “To this day, I remember being coached by the Varadians,” she continued.

“Nancy is with us…every day, all the way…a lot of class,” stated Steve Elmasian, a past Providence king.

Tavitian currently ranks 16th on the all-time scoring list with a hefty 82 points. She now resides in Greater Boston, but she actively supports the Varantians and sponsors a flag as part of the ANC-RI program. Tavitian has also been an ARS activist for many years and currently serves on the organization’s investment committee.

Nareh Mkrtschjan, Araxie Tossounian, Michael Varadian, Shooshig Aghjayan, John Mangassarian, Alex Manoukian, Steve Mesrobian, Aram Balian

Steve Mesrobian, a frequent pentathlon participant and team energizer, was an active member of the Providence AYF. He served as a junior and senior chapter president many times and then on the AYF Central Executive (AYF-CE) for two terms. Mesrobian currently serves on the Camp Haiastan Board of Directors, the ANCA-ER Board as well as the ARF Central Committee. He helps coach track and softball and drives sales for the AYF Olympic Ad Book. He helps out with the Providence V-Ball and assists the chapter with pep rallies, team dinners, cookouts and church bazaars. The list goes on and on.

Looking back, Mesrobian recalled his favorite Olympic memory from 1987. “I was chapter president, and we won in Hartford. I have been going to Olympics since I was five and have attended 41 straight years of AYF Olympics. I love it. This Olympics was clearly special. Thank you for this, especially with these two pals.”

“Steve is the epitome of a volunteer. He is a non-stop, eternal AYFer,” noted Elmasian.

Aram Balian, Nareh Mkrtschjan, Ken Topalian, Alex Manoukian and Araxie Tossounian (Photo: GVK Images)

Ken Topalian’s resume reflects his time as one of two members of Armenia’s Winter Olympic team (’94). His bobsled participation with Joe Almasian was a significant page in Armenia’s Olympic history, seen by a worldwide Armenian television audience.

“Ken’s dad (Kachig) is smiling broadly today as his legacy is bright,” said Harry Kushigian. “His son has followed with activism in our community as well as grandsons Alexan, Shahan and Meran.”

Topalian was an active member of the Providence AYF Chapter and served as president. As an AYF Olympic athlete, he effortlessly dominated the 110 meter hurdles often and was a strong member of relay teams.

After AYF, he served as a Governing Body member and an active church member, serving as the emcee at the Sts. Vartanantz annual church bazaar. 

Coach of a local high school track team, he has also worked with the Providence Olympics team for many years.

“I am humbled to receive this award,” said Topalian. “This is a super year with over 300 AYF participants, and we can thank our grandparents and parents who established the AYF, church and communities.”

Michael Varadian earned gold medals in Olympic participation – pole vault dominant – and totalled 57 points.

He was an active member of the Providence AYF and served on the executive many times, as well as AYF-CE. He has been serving on the Governing Body for seven years. Varadian has also coached junior and senior Olympic teams and is an ardent Camp Haiastan supporter.

Varadian is a member of the Providence ARF and an annual flag sponsor for the ANC-RI. He recently served on the Providence ARF Medical Committee as it gathered supplies and equipment for soldiers in Artsakh. 

He is an example of generation-to-generation engagement in Providence following his father Mal (Spirit award named in his honor) and uncles John, Haig and Varad who helped create the Providence spirit and AYF Olympics we have today.

Mike’s children Nick, Siran, Armen and Sarah have participated in Olympics as have his grandkids Emily, Nicholas and Carl.

Mal’s beat goes on and on!

Mike follows his father and four uncles (including Jack Kachadourian of Worcester, the first Olympic King) as Olympic kings. 

We thank this foursome for their contributions!

Three deserving kings and a deserving queen presided over the most incredible Olympics!


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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