PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD/WYZZ) — In 1997, Larry Rolle helped put together a team to play in the Peoria Park District’s adult hockey league.
Twenty-five years later that team is still playing. And that’s not the best part.
“Everyone I talk to can hardly believe I still play hockey at age 70,” Rolle said.
Yes, Rolle is 70-years-old and still playing hockey on the team he co-founded in the late 1990’s. But he’s not the oldest player on his team called the FROGS.
“A lot of us have been together since the beginning, subsequently we are the oldest team,” said FROGS team co-founder Fred Hoy. “I’m the oldest player in the league at 73.”
The FROGS play in a weekly adult league and have imported a few younger players over the year. But a good chunk of the team has stayed together.
Four players, Hoy, Rolle, 69-year-old Mike Witzig and Doc Watson, 61, have been there since the beginning. In all, there’s seven players 60-years-old or older on the FROGS roster.
And they play against teams with guys who are half their age.
“Our whole lives we’ve been playing against players 20, 30, 40 years younger than us,” said Rolle, a retired pharmacist. “Now I’m 70, playing against 21-year-olds.”
The FROGS have played at a competitive level for 25 years, with just two losing seasons in their history. Sunday night, they won a first round playoff game, 5-4.
All five goals were scored by players who are in the sixties.
“As you get older, you’re not quite as skillful,” Witzig joked. “I tell everyone I’m the orange cone, go around me I’ll be fine. I still skate, it’s good for you.”
The veteran players on the FROGS admit they had no idea a quarter-century after starting this team, they’d still be playing hockey on Sunday nights at Owens Center in a recreational league. They say their goals may have changed but their attitudes remain the same.
“They’re my best friends,” said Hoy, a retired cardiac surgeon. “We realize we’re not NHL players, we realize we won’t get paid any more or less if we win or lose tonight. It’s a great attitude.”