"Life is about hitting someone so hard they forget their name but will remember yours always"
Passed away unexpectedly on Friday, August 3rd, 2012 at his residence at the age of 21. Cherished son of Brian and Kelly Duguay. Loving brother of Jocelyn. Special grandson of Bob and Diana Graham, Margaret Hughes and Gord and Clemance Duguay. Great grandson of Jim (the late Lillie) Smythe and the late Grace Graham. Nephew of Rob (Sharon)Graham, Kerri Graham, Tanda (Rich) Abbott and Graham (Shelly) Duguay. Best friend to his dog Max. Zack will be sadly missed by his many great aunts, great uncles, cousins, friends, teammates and coaches.
Zack had a passion for football. He played for Niagara Regional Minor Football Association, Denis Morris Secondary School, Niagara Spears (for which he both played and coached) and the Hamilton Hurricanes. He was getting ready for his first season with McMaster University. Cremation has taken place. A Celebration of Zack’s Life has taken place in St. Catharines on Wednesday, August 8th
Death of young football star Duguay came way to soon
Sunday August 12 2012
Hamilton Spectator- Scott Radley
He loved the Minnesota Vikings. Loved them. He may have been 21 and a goliath-like 6-foot-5 and 300 pounds, but his bedroom remained youthfully purple and yellow and crammed with Vikings stuff.
Zack Duguay’s passion for the Vikes wasn’t exclusive though. He loved the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, too. His mom was from here and passed along some genetic fondness for the home team. And her boy was also beginning to bleed maroon, having just registered for McMaster where he was going to play on the Marauders this fall.
“He just loved the game,” says his coach with the Hamilton Hurricanes, Jason Hayes.
Playing took effort, though. Considerably more than what was demanded of every other player. Because, when Duguay turned 10, he started having seizures. Within a couple of years, they were occurring with regularity, even during practices and games.
The contact apparently didn’t make things worse. Doctors said football wasn’t going to exacerbate anything and there was no reason he couldn’t play. So he kept at it.
He started as a quarterback in the mould of his hero, Daunte Culpepper, the rather gigantic former pivot of the Vikings.
“Everyone used to bug him and say, ‘You can’t be quarterback, you’re too big,’ ” says his dad, Brian.
Turned out they were right. Before long he was moved to the offensive line where he starred in high school. Then in the Ontario Football Conference with the Hurricanes where he wore a tinted visor in his helmet to block sudden glints of light that could set off the seizures. Still, they continued.
No, they weren’t fun to watch. Occasionally they startled the other team, especially at the beginning. But, over time, coaches and parents and players and officials came to understand what was happening. Those who didn’t know were warned about the situation before the game and told not to worry. If he had one, the game just stopped for a couple of minutes until it passed, then he’d walk off the field and take some time to recover.
Forced time, as it turned out. His teammates would often have to hide his helmet to keep him from going right back in. Despite the toll each seizure took — and even with a torn ligament in his arm for much of last season — he hated missing any plays.
And he was good. Really good. Duguay was dominant on the offensive line. As a long snapper, Hayes says he was NFL quality. He was going to start chasing that pro dream in a few days when McMaster’s camp opened.
He knew he probably wasn’t going to get much playing time since the entire o-line was returning. But he was quite content to start fighting for a spot on a great team that would open the season as a heavy Vanier Cup favourite.
Last Thursday, he went to the school to register and get his ID.
“He was on Cloud Nine,” dad says. “He was happy.”
Several hours later, in the middle of that night, his parents heard a bang in his room and went to check on him as they had so many times before. He was lying face down on the floor and convulsing.
“After 10 seconds, we knew this was not normal,” dad says.
They called 911. Minutes later, he was gone.
Nearly 2,500 people showed up over two days of visitation at the funeral home. Many of them from the football community. Among them, a number of folks from McMaster.
“When I got the email, it was shocking,” says Mac assistant coach Jon Behie, who was preparing for camp to open in just over a week. “This kid was just starting a phase of his life he was so excited about.”
Hey, it was football. He was always excited about that.
Remembering a gentle giant
Tuesday August 7 2012
St Catharines Standard- Karena Walter
ST. CATHARINES - They had to hide his helmet.
Zackery Duguay loved football so much, he wasn’t about to let epilepsy sideline him. So when he had seizures on the field, he wanted to jump back into the game and help his team the instant they passed.
His father Brian would have to buy some time.
“We’ve just got to hide his helmet, because when he comes out, he’s just going to want to go,” he recalled telling the Hamilton Hurricanes president the first time Zack had a seizure with that team.
“He’s going to want to go, but we’ve got to give him a couple of minutes.”
The talented 21-year-old player, well-known in Niagara football circles, died Friday after having a seizure at home in St. Catharines where he lived with his family.
At six-foot-five and 300 pounds, the offensive lineman with the Hamilton Hurricanes was bound for McMaster University’s football team this fall. It was to be a continuation of his love of the sport he discovered at age eight and for which he’d won accolades.
“He loved the camaraderie with his teammates. It was his element. He thought he was equal to everybody,” said Brian Duguay. “He loved being with his fellow players and teammates and just overall going out to competition, everything like that.”
Zack played with the Niagara Regional Minor Football Association, then played for West Park Secondary School for a year. When his best friend died, it was too difficult to stay and he made the switch to Denis Morris High School.
He played and coached with the Niagara Spears and was with the Hamilton Hurricanes for the last two seasons when they won back-to-back Ontario Football Conference championships in 2010 and 2011.
His dad admits bias, but he said Zack would have made a great addition to the McMaster program.
He chose the university because it was close to home and his parents, Brian and Kelly, and he planned to live with his sister Jocelyn closer to the school.
Off the field, Zack was a gentle giant, his father said.
“He was so laid back, he always saw the positive in people,” he said. “Then he’d put on his football helmet and you’d see the biggest change going. He wouldn’t do anything to harm anyone, he would just go out there and help make his team better and do what he can do.”
The Ontario Varsity Football League held a moment of silence before games this weekend for the player. His father said e-mails and condolences from the football community have been appreciated by the family.
“It just shows how much touch he had on people,” he said. “I learned a lot from him. He was so strong and strong-willed and positive in everything he did.”
Zack had his first seizure five days before his 10th birthday and another the day after. When he saw a pediatrician at McMaster for the first time, the first question he asked was: “Am I able play football?” The doctor said “Why not?”
His father said Zack’s eyes just lit up