Office of Sports Affairs
ALA Sports division meeting on March 23, 2013 in Chicago (1st row from left) Jānis Priede, golf coordinator; Laila Ejups, secretary; Toms Trautmanis, director; Edgars Bedrītis, treasurer; Valdis Tums, Midwest representative; Vidvuds Celtnieks, soccer coordinator; (2nd row) Mārtiņš Stāks, Gaŗezers representative, Jānis Ģiga, East Coast representative; Miķelis Ģiga, auditor; Jānis Robiņš, archivist; Modris Krautmanis, former men’s volleyball coordinator; Andra Krautmanis, women’s volleyball coordinator; Ēriks Krievs, men’s volleyball coordinator; Visvaris Ģiga, assistant director; Valdis Ķeris, West Coast representative
Sports Office Director’s Report (Executive Summary)
The goal of the ALA sports division is to bring together Latvians from a different standpoint other than cultural, political or education. We have the opportunity to work with the younger generation, to whom sports has a greater meaning. The love of sports begins in youth and can continue into the later years. Our sports activities can include people from all ages and walks of life. Everyone has the opportunity to participate as an individual or on a team, if they wish. From the very beginning, the sports division has been very forthcoming to include athletes who have a Latvian heritage, but also include those that may not speak Latvian, as well as those who are married to Latvians. Many friendships that have started on the playing field have continued on for the rest of their lives.
The sports division includes many sports. Right now we have representatives in 14 sports, from chess to golf. Our individual sports representatives work to inform those who are interested about what we are doing in the individual sports. We also have representatives from each of the geographic areas: east coast, midwest and west coast. Every year, during the Memorial Day weekend, we organize the Latvian championships in men’s and women’s volleyball, basketball and hockey. This year will mark our 60th annual tournament and the games will be in Minneapolis, where they started back in 1954. For the last 16 years we have included Canadian athletes as well. Since Latvia became free, the sports division has organized a trip every 3 years to visit Latvia with our best players in men’s and women’s volleyball and basketball. The athletes have spent most of their time playing against teams in more rural parts throughout Latvia. Even after over 20 years of freedom, many Latvians in these small cities don’t know that in America we uphold Latvian traditions and language. The trip also unites our own players from different teams and cities, and has created friendships (and a few romances) that will last a long time.
The players are selected from the best players who participate in the yearly championships, as well as elite players who we become informed about. Each player pays their own way to travel to Latvia.
More information can be found on the ALA website under the sports division
ALA had their 59th consecutive games in Toronto, Canada, which was organized by the Latvian Sports Association of Canada (LSAK) and its chairman, Modris Lorbergs. This was the 2nd time that these games were played in Toronto. The games, hockey rink and hotel were in close proximity and were strongly supported by the local Latvian population. There were 3 basketball teams, 2 women’s volleyball teams, 4 men’s volleyball teams and 4 hockey teams, with a total of 13 teams with 132 athletes.
Basketball had 3 teams: Kalamazoo, New York and Toronto. On the first day, New York won both its games, and Toronto beat Kalamazoo. Toronto-Kalamazoo (54:52), New York –Kalamazoo (44:32), New York-Toronto (42-40). On Sunday in the finals, Toronto beat New York (74-58) and the MVP was Justin Ķimens from Toronto.
Men’s volleyball had 4 teams: Chicago, Kalamazoo, Toronto 1AS and Toronto TKO. On Saturday, Toronto 1AS beat each team 3:0. Kalamazoo-Chicago (2:1), Kalamazoo-Toronto TKO (2:1), Chicago –Toronto (2:1). On Sunday for the 3rd time in a row in the finals, Toronto 1AS met Kalamazoo, each team having won 1 final. After a grueling 5 set match, Kalamazoo became the champion (22:25, 25:21, 25:20, 18:25, 15:12) The best spiker was Markus Trence from Toronto and the MVP was Pauls Ejups from Kalamazoo.
For the women, only 2 teams competed: Kalamazoo and Toronto. Many of the Kalamazoo players had played volleyball in college, while most of the Toronto players had not yet started university. The Kalamazoo team won (3:0) both days. The best spiker was Larisa Grinvalds from Kalamazoo and the MVP was Marga Galens from Kalamazoo.
For the first time ever, there were four hockey teams: Toronto 1, Toronto 2, USA and Quebec. The teams played „double elimination”. Toronto 1-USA (9:1), Toronto 2-Quebec (8:4), Toronto 1-Toronto 2 (8:3), Quebec-USA (4:3, OT), Toronto 2-Quebec (10:5). In the finals, Toronto 1 beat Toronto 2, (8:5). The MVP was Dāvis Kuksis, Toronto 1.
The Detroit USA cup and Fraternity games were held on May 19 & 20th, with 59 golfers. Master class 1st place Matīss Mazutis, open „A” class, Juris Velkme and open „B” class, Pauls Bambers, Seniors „A” class Jānis Priede and senior „B” class, Andris Strīpnieks. Fraternity games, 1st place was won by PATRIA.
Valentine Kore Memorial tournament was played near Garezers on June 23rd, „scramble format”, with 60 golfers. The tournament profits of $2,752 were donated to the Latvian Center Gaŗezers.
The 44th Annual North American Championships were played in Grand Rapids on July 14th & 15th, with 39 golfers. Mens’s Masters 1st place Pauls Reinfelds, Seniors, George Putāns, Super seniors, Tālis Lībants, Women, Darlene Putāns. The men’s competition between cities was won by Chicago.
30th Annual Gaŗzers golf tournament was played on July 28th, with 107 golfers. As always, Cook Associates (Jānis un Arnis Kīns) organized the tournament, with all profits going to the Latvian Center Gaŗezers sports fund. „A” class, 1st place, Aivars Erkmanis; „B” class, Andris Runka jr.; „C” class, Roberts Ķenģis; Seniors, Andris Runka sr.; Women, Jill Bokalders.
The Midwest Championships were played in Cleveland on August 18 & 19, with 29 golfers.The Master class was won by Pēteris Grava, Seniors, Jānis Maliņš, Super seniors, K. Sladky, Women, Marita Sladky.
Seattle Latvian Golf Association (SLGA) had their 11th Annual tournament on September 8th, „scramble” format, with 49 players. The winners were Pauls Berkolds, Kārlis Krastiņš, Niks Krastiņš un Kristīne Krastiņa.
The Lansing 15th Annual Latvian Happy Hour (LHH) golf tournament was played on September 15th, with 26 golfers, „scramble” format. The winning threesome was Ligita Ķepītis, Jānis Pried, and Andris Runka, Sr.
Latvian Center Gaŗezers
Every year, the sports division funds a scholarship at the high school for a boy and a girl scholar athlete. In 2012 Gaŗezers organized a sports camp under the Latvian Identity Ventures (LIV) program. The sports camp was organized to include all children of Latvian descent, no matter their language skills. All the programs were in Latvian and English. The program had excellent coaches, including Aldis Bērziņš, the 1984 Olympic Men’s Volleyball gold medalist for USA. The 4-2 volleyball weekend was July 28th and 29th with over 1,000 spectators. This very well maybe the largest, annual sports event outside of Latvia.
Other sports events
The sports division has supported many other events in 2012, including volleyball, soccer and track and field on the East Coast, which was organized by the East Coast representative Jānis Ģiga, along with his many helpers. In Wisconsin, they held a fishing tournament, which was organized by Andris Māgurs.
Toms Trautmanis, Sporta division chairman