His is a story that is not dissimilar to many Armenians born in the Diaspora. He was born in another country and emigrated to another, yet his heart is filled with pride hearing the name of his ancestral home, Armenia.
Today, Artem Tavakalyan plays for the Delaware State Hornets where he averages over 10 points and 5 rebounds per game. His journey is not about numbers. It started long ago and in a different place. Artem is of Armenian nationality born in Moscow, Russia to Varsenik Apresyan and Samuel Tavakalyan. Five years ago he moved to Florida attending the Florida Air Academy in Melbourne, Florida. He has an aunt who lives in San Francisco.
He is a member of the Armenian national team. Tavakalyan has not lived in Armenia, but has been there in the summer as a part of the team. He competed for the national team in the 2015 Under 20 European Championships. He scored in double figures in every game of the competition and had a personal best of 23 points against the Republic of Georgia. Artem was 9th in scoring at the championships at 16.9 points per game. For Tavakalyan the glory is not in his accomplishments. It is to help put Armenian Basketball on the world map.
“It’s a big deal for me,” said Tavakalyan about playing for his homeland. “It is my dream to bring a gold medal to Armenia. Because it’s Armenia, kids looking up to you. I want to rebrand Armenian Basketball. We won a gold medal in 2016, then last year we were one game short of a big qualifier. It’s big for me.”
While growing up he played for the Homenetmen, an Armenian organization devoted to culture, sports, and scouts. Tavakalyan competed in the Homenetmen Games and in the Pan-Armenia Games playing for Moscow. He competes now and will continue to compete in the future.
Tavakalyan joins other Armenian basketball players who were on the NCAA stage. He still retains a friendship with Andre Spight of Northern Colorado via Arizona State, Garen Chivichyan of Idaho State, and Arkadiy Mkrtychyan of Idaho. They played Armenian basketball with Tavakalyan, and have a similar story, playing for and being Armenia despite being born in another country. Also, Artem can be associated with fellow Armenians who have played in the city of Philadelphia; Souren Der Bogohsian at Drexel, Sarah Hulejian at Yale, and Annie Tarakchian for Princeton.
Artem plays in the United States, and is at Delaware State to accomplish his goals, and is learning American-style basketball. He is hoping to play professionally somewhere, back home, Russia, or Europe.
“We are playing against Division I teams with coaches overseas watching you play,” said Tavakalyan. “It’s been a long journey. This should be helpful.”
In the immediate he wants to graduate from Delaware State with a Sports Management degree.
No matter where he goes, or what Artem does, nor where he plays, he will not forget his nationality. And will represent with pride a place he calls home. Armenia, Hyastan, will always be a part of him.
Written By: Glenn Papazian