Friday at the 2022 AYF Olympics

Teeing off

The athletics began in earnest on Friday at the AYF Olympics. It was a near perfect day with temperatures in the 70s and a cloudless sky.  

Waiting to man their carts

We were up early for golf and tennis. After having breakfast with Ara Topouzian and Ken and Alexan Topalian, we headed for the Heritage Country Club for the golf tournament for an 8 a.m. shotgun start. There were a high number of participants from both AYFers and alumni. It is especially notable that there were 11 women AYF members playing. We haven’t that high a number in maybe a decade.  At the time of this writing, we only have the results of the women’s golf.

Sonia Tchilingarian (NY) and Natalie Kouyoumjian (Boston)
  1. Theresa Jelalian, New Jersey
  2. Celeste Simone Ayjian, Philadelphia
  3. Nairi Krafian, Boston
  4. Katia Ariyan, New Jersey

AYF tennis took place at Worcester’s scenic Lake Park. Again, there was as high a number of participants as we have seen in recent years. There were some great matches. One that sticks out in my mind was Alec Soghomonian of the Manhattan Chapter squaring off against Matt Boghossian of Providence in the quarterfinals. Both men are good solid defensive players. It seemed like every point involved impressively long volleys. They were so well-matched as players that the match went to a tiebreaker. Ultimately, Boghossian edged out Soghomonian to move on to the semi-finals. The semi-finals was all Providence, and we will have to check with our Olympic statistician Bob Tutunjian to see if that has ever happened before. Reigning champion Hagop Taraksian again took the gold medal. It was his sixth in a row which is probably close to a record run as well.

Hagop Taraksian about to put one away

On the women’s side, New Jersey dominated again. But, instead of sweeping up all the points as they have a few times in recent years, they took second, third and fourth. First place went to Giselle Krikorian of Granite City who edged out Kira Ariyan in the final match.

Tennis spectators Garo and Galin Tashian

At the end of tennis, we were off to the swimming pool at Clark University for the swimming competition. There are a lot of points to be had in swimming. Providence, Boston, Philadelphia, Detroit and New Jersey were all looking to do well and go into the track and field events with a lead if they could. The point tallies were not shared at the event, but my guess was Providence did quite well. Why? They had the only two high scorers: Courtney Boghosian and Gor Bagumyan. They also won both co-ed relays giving them 50 points right there.

Courtney Boghosian

Next up was the Alumni Dance. The Worcester community laid out a lovely spread of Armenian delicacies for everyone to enjoy. This is a wonderful tradition that is as old as the Alumni Dance. Every community takes pride in it and works hours to prepare, set-up and serve. Worcester certainly measured up to the high standard that has been set in this regard.

The music was provided by the Nor Kef Ensemble, the youngest generation of 20 somethings to play our music. The four-piece group consisted of Michael Kamalian (clarinet), Datev Gevorkian (oud), Sam Sjostedt (guitar) and Alec Surenian (dumbeg). They were very good and very talented. They will be playing at the softball picnic on Saturday as well. It is certain we will be seeing and hearing much more from these musicians in the future. You may recall Surenian, Gevorkian and Sjostedt recently toured Armenia, which you can read about in two Armenian Weekly articles: Presenting Armadi Tsayn and Bringing the Sounds of the Diaspora Home.

John Merian and Rich Kanarian

At the end of the Alumni Dance, the Olympic Kings and Queens along with the recipients of the Varadian Spirit Award were named. This year, three Kings and a Queen were named:

  • Levon Katchadoorian
  • Richard Ovian
  • Debbie Katchadoorian
  • Richard Tashjian

The Varadian Spirit Awards went to:

  • George Aghayan
  • Varsenig (Dusty) Cotter

In any city, there is great applause when these awards and honors are bestowed. But, as it has been 48 years since the last Olympics were in Worcester, I believe the applause was even more enthusiastic in Worcester this night.

Kings, Queen and Varadian Spirit Award recipients

Next up was the AYF Gala in the same room featuring the Yerakouyn Band, which includes Shant Massoyan (guitar and vocals), his brother Raffi Massoyan (oud), Steve Vosbikian (clarinet) and Aram Hovagimian (keyboard). They were simply superb. The dancefloor was full into the wee hours of the morning.

Raffi Massoyan and Steve Vosbikian

On Saturday, we are looking forward to the softball and basketball tournaments during the day and Elie Berberyan and his band in the evening.

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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