Ara Kouchakdjian: Olympic King and Much More

2023 AYF Olympic King Ara Kouchakdjian on his way to the stage (Photo: Sona Gevorkian)

Moments after Ara Kouchakdjian was announced as Olympic King, Ken Sarajian offered the following response: “As an AYFer, Ara represented the good in all aspects of Junior and Senior AYF…every day after AYF days, he contributed and motivated those who followed…now in a sterling professional life, he has helped develop opportunities for youth in Armenia…he knows what it is all about.”

The grandson of Genocide survivors and an exceptional student, Kouchakdjian graduated from Columbia University with a bachelor of science and earned a masters’ degree from the University of Maryland in computer science and software engineering.

Throughout his AYF career, he was a proud member of the Washington D.C. “Sevan” and “Ani” chapters and competed in the AYF Olympics. An all-around athlete, Kouchakdjian is remembered for softball, long jump, placing in running events over several years, anchoring a second place finish in the 400 relay in 1982 and as a medalist in the 1984 pentathlon, scoring over 2,000 points to place third. 

Kouchakdjian offered the following recollections about the pentathlon: “In this event, with Rich Chebookjian and David Shahrigian, I understood what real athletes are, and they were real athletes…they are friends to this day.”

“I still have a picture in my den of Ara and I in the 200…he is a great lifetime AYF memory…fraternal in so many ways,” Shahrigian said in offering congratulations.

Predictably, Kouchakdjian’s contributions to the organization did not stop after his AYF years. He served as an ARF advisor to the Washington, D.C. Senior and Junior chapters for several years. He also was a member of two Washington, D.C. Olympics Steering Committees, serving as co-chair in 1992 and advisor in 1997. “Ara was a staple in the D.C. AYF and community for many years…he was the epitome of a good AYF member…he even coached when he left the Seniors and continued to support the AYF by being an advisor and supporter to both the Junior and Senior Washington AYF chapters and even in greater Boston,” said Hratch Najarian, Olympic King at the Washington 2013 Olympics, about his friend.

2023 AYF Olympic King Ara Kouchakdjian and Yeghisapet Chouldjian, who accepted the Varadian Spirit Award, carrying the flag of the Republic of Artsakh in the Olympics Opening Ceremonies (Photo: Sona Gevorkian)

Kouchakdjian and his wife Lisa (former Kaprielian) moved to the Boston area and are the proud parents of four teenagers: Aram,18; Zaven,17; Maral,15 and Diran,13. In his spare time, Kouchakdjian still continues to run, competing multiple times in greater Boston road races. His legacy continues through his children, who are members of the Middlesex County West “Musa Ler” AYF Junior and Senior chapters, while also attending St. Stephen’s Armenian Saturday and Sunday Schools in Watertown.

Currently, Kouchakdjian is vice president of product development and healthcare innovation at Securitas Healthcare. Over the years, he has published many scholarly papers, earned patents and  received numerous professional awards in product management, strategy and innovation and software engineering. As vice president, he has outsourced company work to youth in Armenia.

Noticeably grateful for the award, Kouchakdjian was humbled that he was remembered. “I have been out of D.C. for a long time. I am really flattered that I was remembered…I had great advisors, peers and especially parents who gave me day-to-day direction and motivation.”

Paul Jamushian, Olympic King at the 1992 Washington Olympics for his AYF and community years and Olympic tennis participation, was Kouchakdjian’s AYF advisor and offered these final words: “Ara is a classic example of a complete AYF member (athletics, educational, social, Hai Tahd), AYF advisor and continued community activist…I was proud of Ara then and more so now.”

Note: The AYF Special issue, postponed due to the Artsakh crisis, is en route to our print subscribers this week and will be available online for all next week.

Harry Derderian

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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