HARTFORD, Conn. – On Sunday, January 7, 2018, immediately following the Divine Liturgy and Blessing of the Water Service, parishioners of St. George Armenian Church of Hartford, CT, participated in their annual Christmas luncheon. Upon the invitation of the pastor, Rev. Fr. Gomidas Zohrabian, 6’8” Zach Tavitian, a key member of the U20 Armenian national basketball team, was asked to address the parishioners in Assadourian Hall about his experie
nces in Armenia over the summer. Zach is a native of Milford, Conn., and a freshman at Western New England University in Springfield, MA.
Fr. Gomidas warmly introduced Zach and his parents, recalling his emphatic dunk in the game between Armenia and Azerbaijan, which was prominently featured throughout the Armenian press and social media worldwide. Zach enthusiastically described his first trip to Armenia, in which he spent one month at training camp in Yerevan before the team headed to Romania to participate in the FIBA U20 European Championship (Division B [ages 20 years and younger]). Zach noted how warmly he was received in Armenia, the many new friends he made, the numerous Armenian Churches he visited and the historic win over Azerbaijan’s U20 basketball team. He also mentioned that although the team had daily training, the team did some sightseeing whenever possible. Zach had the opportunity to visit Keghart, Garni and many of the other familiar tourist spots in Armenia.
St. George Armenian Church of Hartford is home to one of the largest concentrations of Armenians in the United States who fled from persecution in Azerbaijan. During the question and answer period with Zach, he was asked in further detail about the great basketball victory over Azerbaijan, which led to loud applause and cheering.
Upon the conclusion of the program, Fr. Gomidas presented Zach Tavitian with a large Armenian cross on behalf of the parish. Zach then interacted with the ACYOA members and parishioners and new friendships were created. Upon Zach’s invitation, Fr. Gomidas and the members of the ACYOA traveled to Springfield to cheer him on in the last game of his freshman season. At the conclusion of the season, Zach was named Rookie of the Year in the Commonwealth Coast Conference. Zach will return to Armenia again this summer for training camp with the Armenian U20 national team before they head to Bulgaria.
Zach later stated “I appreciated the warm welcome I received when visiting St. George Armenian Church in Hartford. I really enjoyed speaking about my experiences playing basketball for the Armenian U20 men’s national team. Fr. Gomidas and the parish were nice enough to have gifted me with a beautiful Armenian cross. It was great having them cheering me on when they came to watch me play in Springfield.”