It’s like an episode of Cheers: Jules Owchar walks into a curling rink in northern Alberta and everyone knows his name.
He’s had his fair share of media attention for coaching curling’s golden boy, Kevin Martin, for the past 27 years, but that’s not the only reason for his celebrity status. He’s also coached hundreds of junior and professional curlers from around the world.
“I just fell into coaching,” says Owchar.
In 1969, he began at NAIT as a physical education instructor. Throughout the decades of mentoring young athletes, “the kids,” as he fondly calls them, have gone on to win more than 40 provincial and national championships (some of those were in golf – Owchar is an expert instructor in that other Scottish sport as well).
“There’s such a satisfaction if you can give something to the kids,” he says, “and watch them climb.”
Arguably, none have climbed higher than Kevin Martin, a gold medallist at the 2010 Winter Olympics. “Jules has an eye for seeing the mechanics of a curling delivery,” says Martin. Over the years, the two have developed a working relationship that continues to produce positive results. “We understand each other,” Martin adds.
Although Owchar officially retired from NAIT in 2003, he continues to coach the men’s and women’s curling and golf teams. With his rare, natural talent for spotting a winner, there’s no better scout for curling’s next star.
— Ruth Juliebo