In a few months, three PCC athletes will travel abroad to compete in the 2011 Pan-Armenian Games in the Republic of Armenia.
Held every two years in the capital city of Yerevan, the 11 day-long international tournament brings together top-ranked athletes of Armenian heritage from nearly two dozen countries across the world.
Teams, as well as individual competitors, represent the countries in which they live by competing in an array of sports like basketball, tennis, soccer, swimming, and volleyball.
This summer, one current PCC women’s basketball team player will play alongside two former Lancers in representing the 2011 Glendale Pan-Armenian Women’s Basketball Team.
“It’s completely surreal,” said Melanie Samvalian, a psychology major who just completed her first year as a Lancer power forward. She will maintain the same position on the Pan-Armenian team.
“It’s been my dream since I was little,” she said. “Somehow, somewhere I wanted to play in the Olympics. In the Armenian community, we consider this the Armenian Olympics.”
Samvalian was one of 12 women to make the team after competing against several talented players who tried out last month.
“To be picked, I couldn’t believe it,” she said enthusiastically.
But Samvalian was not the only woman chosen with ties to PCC. Former Lancer shooting guard Anna Shahinian was not only picked to compete in the tournament, the 20-year-old will also shoulder the responsibility that comes with being appointed a team captain.
“Being chosen was awesome,” said Shahinian, who will play point guard. “It’s a once in a lifetime experience that I’ve been looking forward to since I was 16.”
Former Lancer Melia Basavand will participate in the competition for the second time. The 5’5″ guard was part of PCC’s 2009 State Championship women’s basketball team. She continued her basketball legacy by playing for the University at Albany in New York, where she just completed her senior year.
Though the Pan-Armenian Games are not directly related to the campus, Women’s Basketball Coach Joseph C. Peron welcomes and encourages his current and former players to participate.
“It’s going to be a great experience and a growing opportunity for them,” he said. “And even beyond that, it will be a chance for them to see Armenia. I think it’s always good to travel and see other parts of the world and experience other cultures.”
The women will be in Armenia for about two weeks in August. When they aren’t competing, they hope to get out and see the country from which their families originate.
It will be Shahinian and Samvalian’s first time traveling to Armenia.
“I am extremely excited,” said Shahinian. “Especially to see family I have never met before.”
But before they depart, the women have two goals they must complete.
One is to get in shape for the stiff competition.
“Everyday is a different workout,” said Samvalian. Within the past week, the team has gone hiking and ran around the Rose Bowl, in addition to daily practices.
The other goal is to raise funds for the costly contest, hotel and flights. It amounts to roughly $3,000 per person, with all competitors paying out of pocket.
In a fundraising effort, the team invites well-wishers to stop by at Joseph’s Cafe, a club in Los Angeles, on Friday at 9:30 p.m. All proceeds from the event will go towards the team’s costs.
Those who are unable to make the event, but would like to contribute can go online to http://tinyurl.com/PanArmenianBballFund to donate.
But even with money still left to raise and intense daily workouts, Samvalian is optimistic about the team’s chances at the tournament.
“We’re coming back with the gold,” she said matter-of-factly. “There is so much talent on the team, this year looks like the best to win.”