The La Jolla Special Piranhas are a part of the American Special Hockey Association (ASHA) and joining some 50 teams around the country giving kids with special needs and developmental disabilities the chance to enjoy the great game of Ice Hockey.

The special Piranhas were inspired by The California Condors.  Rita Eagle’s son and her son  Benjamin began that program at the Valley Ice Center in Panorama City in October 2006.  Youth and adults, boys and girls, with autism, mental retardation and other developmental disabilities were all welcome, regardless of ability to skate.

Isaiah Granet - a PeeWee Hockey player - wanted to give back to the community as part of his Bar Mitzvah.  He was studying the idea of "Derech Eretz" which means the way of the world and includes the idea of treating others with respect.   Wanting to share the pure joy of Hockey with those who otherwise might not get a chance lead to searching for possibilities.  Rita Eagle and others including the ASHA, gave encouragement and support to begin.

Matt Smith at UTCice was also excited and offered his help.  Then the law firm of Paul Hastings LLP took on the program pro bono under the auspices of Mike LaPlante. 

The Special Needs Ice Hockey program is a not-for –profit organization, run by parents and volunteer coaches who are skilled at working with kids with special needs. 

Special needs players not only learn to skate – they learn about cooperation and teamwork; they develop social skills and they experience camaraderie; they have fun in this exciting sport, and they feel great pride as they develop their skills and make that goal - like any other player!  

Members of San Diego Hockey community will be open to join the team on the ice to help coach and to give the Piranhas some competition.

 The team will be centered at the UTCice arena located at the University Towne Center in La Jolla. 


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