Sunday at the 2022 AYF Olympics

When we think of the Olympics, many of us, especially the older alums, think of Track and Field. That is how the Olympics was exclusively Track and Field. From the history in the AYF Ad Book, the first Olympics in 1934 was held in Brockton, MA. There were seven men’s events and only two women’s exhibition events, meaning there were no points for the women’s events. In that first Olympics, the events were run on a grassy field instead of the track and field venues we use today.  

The point here is that the AYF Olympics are rooted in Track and Field. Most of the points are still in Track and Field. A chapter probably cannot win an Olympics without a good showing in Track and Field. We still have the Opening Ceremonies at the Track and Field, which is basically the third and last day of competition.

This year’s Track and Field events were held at Clinton High School in Clinton, MA. The weather was warmer than the first two days of competition. The announcers Kyle Dinkjian and Avi Keshgegian encouraged everyone, spectators and athletes alike to stay hydrated.  

Coming into Sunday’s events, Providence had a good-sized lead after a strong showing in tennis and swimming on Friday. Coach Ken Topalian confided that he was concerned because both Boston and Detroit, in second and third place respectively, would most likely dominate the women’s track events.  

As the afternoon progressed, Providence’s lead was chipped away. People in the know were anticipating that Boston would win the Olympics. Some even questioned if Providence could hold second place against a surging Detroit.  

If we recall, the 2021 had an unprecedented result: Boston and Providence tied for first place. Boston won the 2022 Olympics. Who came in second? Well, it was another tie—another historic first—between Detroit and Providence. The results were not announced at the end of the games. I imagine Coach Ara Krafian knew, but there was no euphoric celebration from the Boston team. 

No worries, there was plenty of euphoria and celebration at the Olympic Ball. I have never seen such a large crowd of AYFers, cheering and jubilant, with the naming of each award recipient. There were chants of peoples’ names and chapter names. It got even louder and more exuberant when the tie was revealed at the end. That’s when Boston knew for sure that they won. With their third win in a row, they retired the cup. Providence and Detroit were just as excited to be in second place, as well they should be. Both are motivated to improve and win the Olympics next year in Washington, DC. The excitement and energy were sustained as the three chapters—Detroit, then Providence, and finally Boston—had their chapter dances.  

AYF Greater Boston “Nejdeh” Chapter celebrating with the Olympic Cup

The music at the Olympic Ball is always an all-star band. The evening featured the vocal stylings of Michael Gostanian and Olympic music legends:  John Berberian on oud reunited with Hachig Kazarian, clarinet. They were joined by Steve Vosbikian on the saxophone, Mal Barsamian on guitar and percussionists Michael Kazarian and Jim Kzrian. Everyone raved about the music. Band and dancers together “rocked the joint.” The dance floor was packed with people of all ages enjoying the evening and the AYF spirit.

Olympics 2022 All-Stars Band

It was a wonderful weekend. The Worcester AYF finally realized its dream of hosting another Olympics. It was supposed to happen two years ago, but it was delayed due to the pandemic. It was worth the wait.  

Looking forward to returning to DC in 2023.

Look for more coverage of this year’s AYF Olympics in the Armenian Weekly’s Special Issue, which will be published on September 24, 2022, and consider sponsoring a page.

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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