Saturday at the 2022 AYF Olympics

Seran Krikorian

It was another beautiful day at the AYF Olympics in Worcester. The weather was a carbon copy of Friday. It was in the 70s again and clear skies that turned partially cloudy. The events on tap were softball and basketball at Clinton High School. To make things more festive, delicious kebab dinners were sold all day long and the Nor Kef Ensemble provided the soundtrack. It was an old-fashioned Armenian picnic softball and basketball tournament.  

There were 15 teams playing softball. Boston actually had two teams: Boston AYP and Boston Pen. Last year’s winner, Detroit, had a bye in the first round. Boston Pen faced Chicago and advanced to play Detroit in the second round. North Andover beat Washington to meet the Western Region in the second round who bested Worcester in the first round. New Jersey beat Granite City and moved forward to play Philadelphia who won their opening round against New York. Providence made quick work of Manhattan and moved on to play the Boston AYP team who beat Canada.

The Shoushanians of Detroit watching their chapter in the finals

In the second round action, Detroit looked likely to repeat as champions this year in their win over Boston Pen. But Providence looked equally powerful in beating the other Boston team. North Andover got everyone’s attention in an impressive upset win over the Western Region. Philadelphia won the game with neighboring New Jersey.

In the semi-finals, Detroit took on North Andover while Philly and Providence squared off. Detroit again looked unstoppable in their win over North Andover. The Philadelphia – Providence matchup was a blowout with a final score of 28 to 2, sending Providence into the finals. 

Detroit jumped out to an early lead, but Providence adapted, tightened up their defense and began an offensive assault of their own. They took a commanding lead and held a late surge from Detroit to secure the championship with a 25-19 win.  

Detroit in second place

There were acrobatic catches and plays, great base running and heartbreaking errors in almost every game. I witnessed two grand slams in the three games I watched. The fans cheered on their teams, who were all pumped to win. The games were hard fought and fun to watch. Yet, win or lose, the teams shook hands and took group photos together. AYF spirit and fraternalism shines during the softball games.

Winning Providence team

Basketball was happening during the softball tournament at the gymnasium which was convenient for those who want to attend both. The half court, three-on-three, version that is played in the AYF is also exciting to watch. As there were only two women’s teams, the one game that was played was for the championship. Philadelphia faced a mixed team of New Jersey and Detroit. It was hard fought, but Philadelphia gradually pulled away.  

Will the shot drop? NJ/Detroit defeat Philadelphia

On the men’s side, I had the opportunity to watch the semi-final game between Boston and Worcester. Worcester was scrappy but no match for agility of a few of the Boston players. Boston took the game and was to face Philadelphia in the final. As chance would have it, the Philadelphia men also played on the softball team, and they were playing Providence in the semi-finals. The final game had to start right away to get it in before the hard stop that was in the contract for using the gym. Basketball or softball—Philadelphia had to forfeit one of them, and they chose basketball. As a result, Boston became the winners of this year’s AYF basketball tournament.

Boston driving on Worcester

Tomorrow is the big day. Track and Field will determine who wins the Olympics this year. Will it be Boston, Detroit or Providence? We will know in a few short hours after which we will all celebrate at the Olympic Ball.

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.

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