By Kaytlyn Poberzncik
NAIT alumni, Karynn Flory, is making a return to the curling program – this time, as more than a player.
With the retirement of Jules Owchar, former head coach of NAIT’s curling teams, Flory is taking this opportunity to jump into the head coaching position, grateful for the program Owchar built over decades.
With 20 years of curling experience under her belt, four years played at NAIT, Flory hopes to continue Owchar’s legacy and bring her own flair to the ice.
“I definitely have a lot of his coaching style ingrained in me because I spent so much time with him, but I’m also hoping to bring a fresh approach to it as well. [Owchar] is so knowledgeable and I appreciate all the knowledge he has given to me, so I look forward to taking all [of those skills] that he has [taught me] and bringing them to the new players,” said Flory.
As Flory ventures into a head coach position for the first time she has to figure out what coaching habits best suit her vision for the team. And although she has no hard set goals for her players, Flory hopes to guide them in areas where they want to see growth.
“I want them to be successful at whatever they choose to do and I want them to know that yes, playing [well] and representing the college is fantastic, but there are also other aspects of life,” said Flory.
“I want to take the coaching approach that if they need me, [they can] come to me for anything, even if it’s not curling related. I’ll be there for them. [Having been] a collegiate player myself, I’ve been through the experience, and I want to be able to share my experience with them. It’s never easy, but it’s manageable and [they] can do it.”
Keeping a disciplined, yet supportive and growth-focussed environment is big for Flory. With other curling opportunities outside of NAIT, Flory wants to set her players up for success beyond the ACAC.
“Whether it be competitive, juniors, ladies, mens, or doubles now too, I think there is so much to learn,” said Flory.
“Jules always came at it with a very strategic and technical approach, and those are all very important. I think that following along with the strategic side of curling and having a fitness component, if they’re [curling] outside of NAIT, plays such a big role.”
With graduating athletes leaving gaps in the curling roster, the search is on for recruitment over the next four months.
“I’ve just introduced myself to the crew that is set to return and there’s only a handful of them, so we need a handful more to make up our team,” said Flory.
Off-season training is a staple in most coaches’ closets. In curling, they take a different approach, especially being away from the ice.
“Mental training and physical training are definitely key components,” said Flory.
“For curling, it’s one of those sports where you often learn from doing. So as far as strategy [goes], that comes when you’re playing and [practicing], but when you’re [in the] off-season, it’s more about the fitness and the mental game.”
Being under the wing of Jules Owchar for most of her career, Flory is ready to take on curling in her own way and find her place coaching in the program.