Let’s hear it for all parents of AYF Olympic athletes.
The ones who sit in the stands and cheer on their sons and daughters of Armenian descent. You know who you are.
The ones on the edge of their seat as their child rounds the turn and heads for the finish with others giving chase. It’s not easy being an athlete; sometimes even worse being a parent.
You find yourself sharing the joy of victory and agonize in defeat. You may have inherited that trait from your parents when you were on the track a generation or two ago. Now, it’s your turn to feel the emotion.
Please accept a well-deserved hand for the many hours you spent behind the wheel chauffeuring your children along to track meets and practices, meetings, and pep rallies. Please accept a badge of honor for the many hours you spent in transit.
You bore the wrath of discontent a number of times when life took a plunge. And you erupted with pride whenever there was reason to celebrate.
The fact they were on an AYF team and perpetuated a venerable tradition such as this was homage enough.
A victory dance please, just like they do at the Sunday night celebrations, for all those parents who’ve encouraged their kids to participate on a team, whether they were superior athletes or not. No matter here.
You told them about character building, morale, sportsmanship and team play. You instilled growth and maturity while giving the heritage a boost. Creating lifelong Armenian friends is an Olympics ritual. After all, wasn’t it the AYF Olympics that introduced you to a husband or wife many moons ago?
Let’s applaud the parents for all the flights they booked, all the miles they registered by car, the telephone calls to regulate plans. Let’s hear it for all the money spent, the contributions that spared no expense, the benefactors in our midst.
Really, it’s a small price to pay for an organization that develops ethnicity through sports. Good as parents often are, peers create role models. Is there anything better than a houseful of AYF athletes preparing to leave town for an Olympics?
A victory speech from alumni who’s been through the stages a fortnight ago is all the motivation they shall ever need. Leave it to a parent (yours or another’s) to gush out the words. They’re on the right track.
I look at my own parents and how supportive they were during my athletic years. Despite operating a luncheonette that ran seven days a week, they still found time to attend my events and provide encouragement.
I was never much of an athlete and quite frankly, felt a little embarrassed at the thought of having them there with me finishing in arrears.
It didn’t matter. As busy as they were, as disengaged about sports as my mother happened to be, they felt it in their best interests to stand up and cheer. My dad ran cross country during the 1930’s for Somerville High School. Both were genocide survivors.
Of course, when my three children became of age, they couldn’t avoid me at an AYF Olympics. I was always on the field with my camera, documenting the games for a special edition. I tried to maintain a low profile for my kids. It wasn’t easy.
It may be easier in the stands where they can’t see you. Sometimes they can hear you. I know some Armenian parents who are so loud in their applause, their voice could echo off the peaks of Mount Ararat.
I often think what an AYF OIympics would be like if the stands were empty. Say what you want about the dances and hookups. All well and good. But it’s the events that compose an Olympics and it’s the parents who provide the score.
Let’s do a “Tamzara” for all those moms and dads whose loyalty over these decades has been the coup de grace. Let’s hear it for all those who’ve given their time and effort in subordinate roles by preparing the food and organizing the various side-shows.
To them goes a gold medal for collaboration. In many cases, both parents have extended a helping hand for their community.
As much as this AYF Olympics belongs to the athletes, so, too, does it go to the parents. And if your son or daughter happens to be a winner, so are you. Should a runner or discus thrower miss out on a medal, no sweat.
Everybody comes out ahead, just for contributing to the overall weekend. Those who miss out entirely and show no support are the ones who lose.
In the end, when all is said and done, you can’t beat the memories.