By Mark Jurgena
The Collinsville High School bowling program has seen many monumental days.
There have been perfect games, perfect seasons, tournament championships, conference crowns, and state qualifiers.
They have also won a state title.
But none of those are any bigger than the annual Zach LeCuyer Memorial Invitational which will be held this Saturday at Camelot Bowl.
It’s a huge 32-team tournament that honors the memory of the 2008 Collinsville High School graduate and former Kahok bowler.
“He had heart, he had talent, he was an absolute leader,” said longtime Collinsville bowling coach Sean Hay about LeCuyer. “When he wasn’t in the lineup he bought into the whatever you can do to help the team win mentality. When he was in the lineup he was busting his tail to do his best there, when he wasn’t he did everything he could to make sure the people ahead of them could do their job. He was really a sports-loving, inspiring kid.
“We had a ridiculously talented team his senior year. They will all tell you that if he wasn’t there they would’ve been half the team that they were. He was that kind of an impact player.”
The Kahoks finished in 10th place at the state tourney that season.
LeCuyer eventually landed at SIUE. He was a junior studying in the College of Arts and Sciences when he was struck with a sudden illness that quickly took his life in January 2014 at only 23 years old.
“It was tragic but we were all very fortunate to have known him,” began Hay. “I think everyone was better for having known him. In his short time on this planet, he made an impact. One can only hope to be the same. That’s exactly what you want to leave behind, great memories and inspiration.”
Faced with the loss of such a valued member of the bowling program, Hay wanted to keep the legacy of LeCuyer alive and the Collinsville Kahok Invitational bowling tournament was the best way to do that.
“I thought, there’s no better way to try to honor him than to name the tournament after him and just make sure that future generations at least know his name,” said Hay.
So later that year, the name of the tournament was changed to honor the former Kahok.
Each year prior to the tournament, Hay takes a little time to discuss who LeCuyer was and why the event honors his memory.
“He’s someone who represented everything you wanted in a player and just as a person,” Hay said. “He was just an awesome, awesome person.”