Throughout Canada and in many of the states, there are hockey programs for young people who have developmental handicaps from autism, retardation, seizures or other causes. Seven years ago,
the Valley Ice Center in Panorama City initiated the first ever ice hockey program in California for children and young adults with developmental disabilities.
Ask the kids what they like, and the first answer is, “The team.” They call themselves “The California Condors.” The group is open to all developmental disabilities, all ages, male or female and all levels of skills – including those who have never skated before. On ice, all are equal.
The general public is familiar with the Special Olympics, but hockey is not part of that program. The program in Panorama City is the brainchild of Rita Eagle, whose son was able to play hockey when the family lived in Toronto. Her goal is to encourage these young people to have fun and learn skills and teamwork in a safe environment.
The Condors are members of The American Special Hockey Association, along with about 50 other teams across the USA and Canada, Until about a year ago they were the only special needs ice hockey team in California. Inspired by the Condors there is now a team in Pasadena and one in Santa Clarita.
The Condors provide equipment to its participants from donations and through fundraising to pay for gear. The Condors program could not have started without the generous donation of equipment by the NHL Players Association distributed through H.E.L.P., (Hockey Equipment Lending Program).
The Condors coaching team is made up of our fabulous volunteer coaches, Mitch Berger, Brett Marsh, Ronda Kalan, Steve Kalan and J. P. Giuliotti. The L.A. Kings provide two wonderful assistant coaches. Finally, excellent teenage hockey players volunteer to assist the Condors on the ice.
Special Needs Hockey
WELCOME TO CONDORS COUNTRY
NOW PROUDLY AFFILIATED WITH THE AMERICAN SPECIAL HOCKEY ASSOCIATION
In March, 2010 the fabulous skate-a-thon organized by Kyle Woo, with guest appearances by representatives of the LA Kings raised the funds needed to send the Condors to a huge Special Needs Tournament in Toronto, Canada and a year later to another tournament in Denver.
The Ducks hosted "Condors Night" March 20- 2011.Our kids participated in the national anthem ceremony and had a terrific four minute scrimmage on the full sheet of Honda Center Ice. Mitch Berger and Chris Poulos assisted as coaches, and Michael Perreira made a goal!.
The California Condors took a step foward in October 2009, entering their first tournament, and playing more experienced teams to a draw. Three ties, with the third finally broken by a shootout.
It was a tri-state tournament - Utah, Colorado and California. Special Needs Hockey is common throughout Canada and many of the States. But at that time the still young Condors team was the only special needs hockey program from California.
The tournament settling in the magnificent rink built for the Salt Lake City 2002 Olympics added to the excitement. "Their energy was high. I felt their excitement," says Coach Ethan Rill. "This was as good hockey energy as I have ever felt."
The road to the Utah tournament was made possible by the generosity of fans and friends, Not least among those helping was 13-year-old Scott Belinsky who sometimes skates with the Condors as a volunteer helper. Scott was assigned to raise money for charity in preparation for his bar mitzvah, and was able to present the team with a check for $3,000.
April 7, 2013 Condors Skate-a-thon Fundraiser was a huge success! A heartfelt thank you to all participants and contributors.
Southern California Special Needs Hockey Tournament a huge success!!
The Condors skated at the Staples Center on
February 16, 2012
They received a donation from the L.A.Kings of $5000 for ice
time and gear.
With additional fund-raising by the Condors, the team was able to participate in the Disabled Festival in Dallas, Texas in April 2012
Donate here to the Condors through the Hockey Equipment Lending Program (HELP)
Hockey players at the end of each game meet at center ice and shake hands in a show of sportsmanship. Watch as the Condors do the same.
INTERESTED IN JOINING?
The Winter session begins January 5, 2014.
$15.00 per session
Summer Session TBA
Players must wear complete protective gear, including a hockey helmet with cage. We are able to loan equipment. Players must also obtain USA Hockey insurance once per year, available online.
For more information, call Rita Eagle,
310-792-4794 (T, W, and Friday)
The Condors are a non-profit organization that engages in fund raising to cover the cost of participating in Special Needs tournaments, ice time, gear, and general team maintenance. The program is entirely managed by parents and volunteers. Fees for the program are charged exclusively to pay for ice time. Donations to the Condors to help support and expand the program are fully tax-deductible, greatly appreciated, and will be promptly receipted. Please make checks out to H.E.L.P./California Condors, P.O.Box 1520, Burbank, CA 91507.
The First Special Needs Ice Hockey Team in California.