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Local product Owen Stewart immortalized on Timberwolves Wall of Honour

He used his innate soccer IQ and relentless competitiveness to make an impact

Owen Stewart is being recognized with a spot on the UNBC Timberwolves Wall of Honour

One of the most beloved teammates in program history, Stewart’s growth as a player helped him leave his name all over the UNBC record books, while helping to elevate the program to new heights. Stewart left behind a legacy of commitment, competitiveness, and pride, making him a fitting choice for the Timberwolves Wall of Honour.

UNBC outlined his record in a recent press release.

A highly regarded player in Prince George, Stewart rose through the youth ranks competing for PGYSA. After a year with the Calgary Foothills program, he returned to Duchess Park Secondary School and was recruited ahead of the 2016 Canada West campaign by UNBC head coach Steve Simonson.

Stewart’s rookie campaign did not disappoint, as he set the tone for a tremendous career with his first season. Despite often being the smallest player on the pitch in physical size, he used his innate soccer IQ and relentless competitiveness to make an impact. In year one, he started 15 of the Timberwolves’ 16 games, scoring his first career goal on Sept. 4 2016 against UBC, and notching his first game-winning goal on Sept. 18 against the Winnipeg Wesmen.

“Owen came in as a starter in his very first year and never looked back,” said Simonson. He was immediately a versatile attacking player for us. You could see how much pride he had in playing for his hometown team.”

Stewart finished the season third on the TWolves in goals, trailing only program leaders Tofa Fakunle and Francesco Bartolillo; two players who would make a major impact on the young midfielder’s career.

“Immediately, Owen showed he was determined to earn his stripes within our program. He was considered a good recruit, but we had some really good recruits coming in from around BC. I don’t know if any of us expected the local boy to emerge like he did,” said Bartolillo. “It’s not easy to score goals in your first year. He played heavy minutes for us and found a way to impact a lot of games, despite playing out of position. That rookie season set a solid foundation for what would become an amazing U SPORTS career.”

In 2017-2018, the Timberwolves took a big step forward, earning the first Canada West playoff berth in program history with a 5-5-6 record. Stewart continued to establish himself as a key cog for the developing program, doing whatever it took to help the program.

“As a young player, he was so receptive to information. He always wanted to learn, and he was a sponge,” said Fakunle about his young teammate. “I genuinely respected that a ton. He was a really good footballer, and he was starting games for us and contributing. Despite being a young player, his attitude to succeed pushed guys like me to be better.”

Stewart’s second year was a reunion of sorts, as well, as he was joined on the Timberwolves roster by his older brother Liam Stewart, who was returning from the University of Washington.

“The chance to play together and play for our hometown was special,” said Liam. “Owen was one of our most important players. His top two traits, for me, were his first touch and his quickness with the ball. He might not outpace you over 50 yards, but that five yard acceleration was special. It gave him the space to pick a pass or bear a defender one-on-one. For me, it was and will always be a great privilege to have played alongside my best friend and represent out school.”

Stewart continued to establish himself in 2018-2019, as the Timberwolves moved to Masich Palce for their home games. With his growing flair for the dramatic, it was fitting that it was the Prince George product became the answer to a trivia question, scoring the first goal in the stadium’s history on September 14th, 2018 against the Victoria Vikes.

“He has been watching big-time players his whole life, and I think studying the game has made him that much more effective,” said longtime teammate Alex Nielson. “Owen is a big energy guy. Everything he does, he is bringing the energy. I think, because of that, he is accustomed to big moments. It doesn’t really phase him because he is larger than life at most times anyways. Owen was very good at seeing big game plyers and being like them as much as possible.”

He would play all 15 games, starting 13 of them, and helping the TWolves to the first winning season in program history with a 5-4-6 record.

The 2019-2020 campaign was the first season without program stalwarts such as Bartolillo, Fakunle, Gordon Hall, and Conrad Rowlands, meaning Stewart would be leaned on as a leader for the Timberwolves as the program experienced significant roster changeover. He responded with his best season yet, registering six points and pacing UNBC in points.

“Owen was becoming more and more aware of what he could bring to the team, both on and off the field. He was an incredible dribbler and creator, and he fantastic with the ball at his feet,” said Bartolillo. “But I think it is important to note his mentality. From day one, he was committed to putting in the work and improving. He was a true competitor who hated losing. No matter what, he wanted to find a way to help the team win games.”

With the 2020-2021 Canada West season lost to the COVID-19 pandemic, Stewart was, unsurprisingly, committed to returning for his final season ready to lead the team he grew up watching and cheering for.

In 2021-2022, with conference play back on the schedule, the now-veteran was tremendous in his senior season. His flair for the big moment was on full display on September 25th, when the Timberwolves were visiting the powerful UBC Thunderbirds in Vancouver. UNBC trailed the T-Birds 3-0 with less than 10 minutes to play, but it was the PG boy who propelled them to one of the finest comebacks in Canada West history, scoring a pair of goals in a dramatic and memorable 3-3 draw.

After starting all eight of the Timberwolves’ games, Stewart suffered a leg injury in a matchup with the UBCO Heat. He proceeded to play through immense pain, training all week and inspiring his teammates by starting the following weekend against the UFV Cascades. It was after that game that an X-ray would reveal he had been playing on a broken leg.

“He trained for a week and started a U SPORTS game with a broken leg. He was that determined to give, literally, everything he had to the team and to the program,” said Bartolillo, who was serving as an assistant coach that season. “Ask me who I would want to go to war with on the field, and I would point straight to Owen Stewart.”

Stewart concluded his historic career with his name etched throughout the Timberwolves record books. Following his final game in green and gold, he sat second in program history in games with 69 – good for top-five in Canada West history. He was also top-five in goals, assists, points, and game-winning goals.

“Not only was Owen a fantastic player, but he was someone with a smile on his face. In training, in the room, on the pitch,” said Simonson. “He made the game enjoyable to watch. He was clearly committed to the Timberwolves, and was a leader for us. I truly enjoyed every single moment coaching Owen. I couldn’t be more pleased to see him rewarded with this recognition.”