SAN DIEGO—Nearly 150 members from the Armenian Youth Federation’s Western Region turned-out on Thanksgiving weekend to compete in the AYF’s 36th annual Olympic Games, hosted by the AYF’s Glendale ‘Roupen’ chapter, at the majestic seaside Paradise Point Resort in San Diego.
AYF chapters from all over the Golden State and Las Vegas attended the weekend tournament to compete in soccer, basketball and volleyball.
“The AYF Olympics is a long-standing tradition that brings together Armenian-American youth from across the Western United States for a weekend of sports competitions and good times,” said ‘Roupen’ chapter chairperson David Arakelyan. “This event is very important in fostering ties between AYF members from different corners of the country, and it represents one of the many pillars on which our organization is founded.”
The weekend kicked off Friday evening with a bonfire by the beach. Games began the next morning, pitting chapter against chapter for the gold. After a heated day of activity, Olympics goers enjoyed a night of dancing and music at the hotel before they hit the pavement again for semi-finals.
Chapter pride always runs high at Olympics. Every year, every team comes to the games, with unique t-shirts, complete with graphics and catchy slogans. Each comes with the intent on taking home the championship in their niche sport.
“Olympics has always been my favorite time of the year,” said Levon Abrahamian, the chairperson of the Crescenta Valley ‘Zartonk’ Chapter. “It’s not just the games we enjoy, but the lead up to the weekend; the weeks of practice, the long nights behind Photoshop designing chapter shirts and the hours of debate at meetings trying to agree on the perfect slogan to display on the shirts.”
At the end of the tournament, the Fresno ‘Kevork Chavoush’ chapter came out on top in Soccer, winning the gold and taking the glory. The Burbank ‘Varak’ chapter came in first for Volleyball and the Hollywood ‘Musa Dagh’ chapter took the winning position in basketball.
“We had more than 150 AYF members competing in this year’s Olympics; the energy was great,” Arakelyan exclaimed, adding how much he appreciated the ability to connect and reconnect with members. “The Olympics committee worked very hard all year, mobilizing our chapter, to make this event a success and I think we were able to achieve that.”
Next year, the Olympic games are set to be hosted by the San Fernando Valley ‘Sardarabad’ Chapter, which has already begun planning and preparation to ensure nothing short success for the 2010 games. On Thursday, December 4, the chapter held their first fundraiser for the games. Themed as a “Post Olympics Reunion,” it was a resounding success, attracting many to an event that has set the tone for a year of fundraising.
For many in the AYF, the Olympics have never been just about the games and competition. “There’s a lot more to it than meets the eye,” says ‘Sardarabad’ member Patil Aslanian.
“From start to finish, the Olympics represent every fabric of AYF life, from the organization’s democratic culture and adherence to team-work and social-unity, to the appreciation for the long, hard work that goes into making any endeavour a success,” explains Aslanian. “At the end of every year, we vote on which chapter gets to host the Olympics; then the chapter honored with the responsibility unites around the goal and spends the entire year working together to bring the chapters together for another weekend of fun and competition.”