The history of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocesan District Olympics…
In the Spring of 1978, the Youth Department of the Archdiocese expressed a desire to expand the Archdiocesan District’s athletic program beyond basketball. The youth director at the time, Fr. Kosmas “Ike” Karavellas, wanted to start a Junior Olympics program. His Eminence, the late Archbishop Iakovos, gave his blessings to the idea and a committee of clergy and laity was formed. Two of the original members, Alex Constantinou, Chairman, and Dimitrios Pamboukes, Vice Chairman, currently serve on the committee.
That committee had two tasks at hand. First, they had to encourage parishes to participate. Thankfully, that was easily accomplished. Second, they had to find a facility that could accommodate such a program and be centrally located. Thus, in May of 1979, the inaugural Junior Olympics for the Archdiocesan District was held at Queens College. Eighteen parishes participated. GOYA athletes competed in volleyball, swimming, soccer and track and field. JOY athletes competed in track and field only.
In the ensuing years, the Olympics grew with much enthusiasm and interest. With more of our youngsters participating, events had to be added. The one-day program became a two-day affair. Overnight accommodations also became a priority. Memorial Day weekend seemed the best time of the year to hold what rapidly became a three-day event. Different sites were used in an effort to find the most suitable facility for our growing needs: New Rochelle High School, Hofstra University, CW Post College and SUNY Farmingdale, just to name a few.
The 1990’s started with His Grace, Bishop Alexios, overseeing an expansion of the Olympic Committee. Most of the members appointed back then continue to serve. From 1994 through 2006, the Olympics were held at Stony Brook University. In 2007, the Olympics moved to its current location at Suffolk County Community College in Brentwood, Long Island. The Olympics have continued to flourish since His Eminence, Archbishop Demetrios, was enthroned as the Archbishop of America in 1999, with over 1,100 participants and their families attending annually.
When teaching our children the fundamentals of our Orthodox faith and the rich history of our Hellenic Heritage through sports, we instill in them the pride and unity needed for the continuation of Orthodoxy and Hellenism in America. The Greek Orthodox Archdiocesan District Olympics is one of the most positive and exciting programs for our youth. This Olympic program is a testament of our commitment to our youth. Our goal is to ensure that their Olympic experience is one that they will always remember, with fondness and pride.