#CFCOVFL: Duguay has created ‘family’ in Niagara

In 2004, along with Dave Whitely, Ed Fortier and Jamie Saunders, current Niagara Spears Varsity head coach Brian Duguay founded the Niagara Spears football program.

For the first two seasons, Duguay served as the Offensive Line Coach on the junior varsity team, and was named the Head Coach the following season. He stayed in that role until 2013, when he took on the head coaching role for the varsity squad.

Duguay has a long history in the sport, dating back to the 1980’s, where he played on the offensive line for the Saint Mary’s Huskies in Halifax, Nova Scotia. After playing two years with the Huskies, he suffered a knee injury that ended his playing career.

This injury didn’t prevent Duguay from spending the rest of his life being involved with the sport. He returned to Grantham High School in St. Catharines, Ontario where he coached until the school closed. He also helped coach at several other high schools in the Niagara Region, including West Park, Holy Cross, St. Francis, and Dennis Morris.

Duguay then coached the Offensive Line at York University and the Hamilton Hurricanes of the Canadian Junior Football League (CJFL). He’s also coached various all-star games including the OVFL All-Star Game and the Ontario Prospects Challenge (OPC) game this past May.

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In August of of 2011, the Duguay family was struck with something that would change their lives. Brian’s son Zack, passed away at the young age of 21 from an epileptic seizure in the middle of the night. Zack began having seizures at the age of 10, and within a couple of years they were occurring regularly, sometimes even during football games. Brian coached his son while he played for the Hamilton Hurricanes. Zack was pursuing his dream to play professional football, with the intention of attending the McMaster Marauders’ training camp mid-August.

“The way the players from the Spears responded to Zack passing away just demonstrated the type of coach dad is.” Said Jocelyn Duguay, Brian’s daughter and the current Spears governor.

“Dad truly cares about his players and wants the best for all of them. After they’ve graduated from the program he still checks in on them and makes sure they all understand no matter what they need he’ll always be there for them. A lot of his players have come back to coach either with him or serve elsewhere in the organization.”

While talking to Jocelyn about the passing of Zack, she explained that the situation had “absolutely changed dad.”

“He’s always had a huge belief that family comes first, and that’s definitely come through into his coaching now.” she said.

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Photo Credit: William Vanderland

Niagara Spears linebacker Eli Sacco has played four seasons under Duguay, and said the reason for the organization’s success can be placed on the shoulders of Duguay.

“He is so dedicated to the team, and treats every player like family. The family environment on the team allows for everyone to have each other’s backs, on and off the field. He’s made it more than just a team, it’s a family for life.” Sacco explained.

Slotback, Colin O’Connor said “Looking at his ‘grizzly bear’ appearance you wouldn’t expect him to be so caring. He teaches us so much more than football. He’s taught me how to become a man, respect, loyalty and how to strive to get the results you want in life.”

“He believes in everyone single one of us, and forces us to believe in ourselves, by putting everyone ahead of himself. I love him and everything he does for me, without asking for anything in return” He explained.

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Duguay has had an impact on every single player who has played for the Spears Organization. He has a provided an environment that allows any player from the Niagara Region to come enter and feel the utmost comfort on the football field. He is a mentor for all of his players, not only as athletes but also as men.

“The past two seasons I have played on the senior team we have finished first in the conference and that is just a testament to his leadership and importance to the organization.” said receiver, Brandon Solanki.

The impact Duguay has had on his players will never be forgotten. He has created a family within the Spears organization, and it is something that will live forever.

Duguay has currently led the Niagara Spears to a record of 6-2 at the end of the regular season. The team has earned a bye for the first round of the playoffs, and will play in the semi-finals during week 11 of OVFL play.

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One Comment

  1. Avatar Judith Zarubiak says:

    As a mother of a player of the Niagara Spears I can agree, Brian Duguay is the dad of football and truly cares for those kids on and off the field. My son has played Spears football from Bantam age and now Senior and I can tell you that Brian knew what kind of person and player my son was even before he reached his level and that’s because he cares about ALL the Spears players. It is truly a family headed by Big Bear Brian with the big heart. Brian is not only interested in building the players in their football skills, but he is also involved with building them as young men and encouraging them to get good grades in school. Brian teches, respect, responsibility and accountability along with the football skills and any player who pays attention and takes in theses lessons will benefit all their lives from being a Niagara Spears Family Member. Thanks Brian and your coaching staff for all your positive influences and teachings for my son. FEAR THE SPEARS because no matter what they are winners in many categories because of this man and the coaches from all levels of the Niagara Spears Family. Brian and his family suffered a great loss with Zach’s death and the support from all of the Spears was a testament to the family he created. and Since then Brain has been fighting to come back to the game mentally and I think he is almost there, but during this time he never lost his loving dedicated nature. Looking for the “Old Brian” to emerge the one who pushes those players to ensure they reach their max potential. We love you Brain Duguay and support you and your family in everyway and I know each and everyone of those players are as dedicated to you as you are to them ! Go Spears

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