By Marianne Walsh
The Chicago Horned Frogs Hockey Club was formed in 2017 and quickly became a staple of the Morgan Park/Beverly area. On any given night, big frogs and little frogs alike can be seen toting their heavy bags and sticks into the facility at 11505 S. Western, affectionally referred to by players as “the pond.” What started out as a way to offer affordable house hockey to the neighborhood quickly exploded in popularity and hundreds of kids every year proudly carry on the Frog tradition.
In expanding its rosters, the Chicago Horned Frogs fielded its first 18U (ages 18 and under) Team this past season. Yet as players approached their final game ever as youth hockey players, the team felt it was important to celebrate the end of an era. Parents rallied to create a memorable Senior Skatesmen Night to honor the conclusion of the careers of five players: Nick Cook, Nick Finn, Carter Hunt, Nick Vlahos and Jack Walsh. The facility was decorated with green and black throughout, players jerseys were hung on the ice, and the pond was packed with a noisy and rambunctious crowd.
That same week, 18U coach Duane Cerrito was named the organization’s 2022-2023 Northwest Hockey League Coach of the year. Cerrito, who has three sons who play for the Chicago Horned Frogs, coaches both the Midget (18U) and Bantam teams. He is a USA Hockey Level-3 Certified Coach. An active member of the Chicago Fire Department hockey team since 2008, Cerrito previously played on the first Cobras Hockey Club team but began the sport in the Orland Park house league, graduating from Richards High School in Oak Lawn.
Morgan Park Hockey Coordinator, Scott Cook, was delighted with Cerrito’s being named Coach of the year. “Duane expertly passes along his life-long knowledge, skill and love of hockey to every level of the Chicago Horned Frogs program,” he said. “Duane is highly valued in the South Side hockey community for his thoughtful teaching style, dedication and calm coaching manner on and off the ice. His dedication to the community and the game itself is inspiring to the entire Horned Frogs’ hockey program. We are all proud to be recipients of his time and commitment.”
As the season comes to completion, the Chicago Horned Frogs can rest assured they have created yet another memorable season along with hockey friendships that last far beyond the third period.