Athletes prevail during a rainy AYF Midwest Junior Olympics

The winning home team: Detroit AYF “Kopernik Tandourjian” Junior Chapter (Photo: Raffi Sarrafian)

The 57th annual AYF-YOARF Midwest Junior Olympics, held on July 14-15, were hosted by the Detroit AYF “Kopernik Tandourjian” Chapter. The games brought together Junior members from across the midwest regional chapters of Detroit, Racine, Chicago and Granite City to engage in a weekend of competition and socializing with their fellow AYF members. 

The weekend began with a picnic on Friday at Marshbank Park in West Bloomfield, Michigan, a nice setting near Cass Lake. Athletes and alumni were treated to food and music and a great evening of meeting new people and catching up with familiar folks. 

The Olympics began Saturday morning at the Hawk Community Center in Farmington Hills, Michigan. Although it was a rainy day of events, the passion and spirit of the Juniors prevailed, and they had great performances in their competitions throughout the day.

The solid Chicago AYF “Ararat” Junior Chapter Team (Photo: Raffi Sarrafian)

As the host chapter, the Detroit “Kopernik Tandourjian” team had a great showing of athletes competing in the Junior Olympics. However, this did not mean that Chicago, Racine and Granite City would go down easily. Athletes, who also included two members-at-large, competed in a variety of track and field events, including races, shot put, long jump and the baseball throw. 

Unfortunately, due to the poor weather, the opening ceremony was delayed until the evening’s dance to ensure all of the events were completed in good time. Nevertheless, the kiddie race was still held, and many future AYFers had the opportunity to experience competing at the Midwest Junior Olympics.

The Racine AYF “Armen Garo” Junior Chapter Team (Photo: Raffi Sarrafian)

Racine and Granite City put up a great effort throughout the day; however, it was clear that the winner of Midwest Junior Olympics would come down to Chicago and Detroit. Chicago’s younger and older boys made a strong statement, garnering many of the points in their respective events, while Detroit’s older and younger girls stepped up in a big way to earn significant points in their events. Due to the rain, the medal ceremony was moved to the evening dance, leaving plenty of excitement for who would be receiving a medal on the podium.

After a great day of competing, it was time for the Midwest Junior Olympics dance at the Sarkis Lillian Arakelian Hall in Dearborn, Michigan. Musical entertainment was provided by Detroit’s very own Nigosian Band, which was a perfect cap on an eventful day of competition. Later at night the medals were awarded, and the high scorers received their trophies and recognition for their strong performances during the games. 

Tina Peltekian Sportsmanship Award recipient Aline Killian (Photo: Raffi Sarrafian)

Just prior to the final results being announced, the Chicago and Detroit chapters gave out their two special awards. First was the Tina Peltekian Sportsmanship Award, which was awarded to a Junior who showed great sportsmanship and involvement during both Olympic practices and the games themselves. Presented in honor of Tina Peltekian, a member of the Chicago “Ararat” Chapter who passed away from cancer, the award was announced by coach Mike Jerikian and awarded to Aline Killian. 

The next special award was the Uncle Herman Sportsmanship Award, which was presented by the Detroit chapter. Named in honor of ARF advisor Herman Torigian, who spent over 40 years being a mentor for Juniors in the Detroit chapter, the award was announced by coach Laura Nigoghosian and awarded to Sevana Derderian.

At long last, it was the moment everyone was waiting for: the final results. In fourth place was Granite City, led by siblings Nick and Sarah Varadian who put up a solid 23 points. In third place was Racine, who had outstanding performances throughout the events with 49 points. Although Chicago put together a high-point total, their 112 points were not enough to take first place from host chapter Detroit. Detroit’s Juniors delivered an excellent performance during the events, bolstering 159 points as they defended their home in a fantastic manner.

The high-scorers of the Midwest AYF Junior Olympics (Photo: Raffi Sarrafian)

As is tradition for Midwest Junior Olympics, each chapter performed its chapter dance, and the crowd was generous with donations for all the competing teams.

As the weekend came to a close, some of the Juniors offered their thoughts about their experiences at Midwest Junior Olympics:

“This Junior Olympics was my first time competing, and I thought it was the greatest experience. The weather was a challenge, but it made the whole team come together. We all supported each other to do our best!” Aline Killian of the Chicago “Ararat” Chapter

Granite City “Antranig” Chapter athletes Sarah and Nick Varadian (Photo: Raffi Sarrafian)

“I had so much fun participating and cheering everyone on at the games and dancing all night long.” Ani Sarafian of the Detroit “Kopernik Tandourjian” Chapter

“This past weekend at Junior Olympics in Detroit, my brother Nick and I had a fun weekend making memories at the picnic on Friday, the track and field events, and the dance on Saturday night. I met a lot of new friends and hung out with old friends. I was fortunate enough to bring home some medals from all of my races, and I won the high score in my age category. I am sad that I am too old to participate in Juniors next year, but I will never forget all the memories I made from Junior Olympics, and now I get to participate in Senior Olympics. Even though my brother Nick and I were the only ones from Granite City, I think we represented Granite City well.” Sarah Varadian of the Granite City “Antranig” Chapter 

“I loved Junior Olympics because I got to see my friends from out of town. It is very fun to participate in different events and compete with other people.” Mourad Bagdasarian of the Detroit “Kopernik Tandorujian” Chapter

Founded in 1933, The Armenian Youth Federation is an international, non-profit, youth organization of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF). The AYF-YOARF Eastern United States stands on five pillars that guide its central activities and initiatives: Educational, Hai Tahd, Social, Athletic and Cultural. The AYF also promotes a fraternal attitude of respect for ideas and individuals amongst its membership. Unity and cooperation are essential traits that allow members of the organization to work together to realize the AYF’s objectives.

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