About Us



Spirit League is a safe place  for children and young adults with special needs to play team sports in a positive, self-esteem building environment.

The League is for athletes who are physically active (ambulatory) but have difficulty keeping up with their peers. We emphasize the learning of basic sports skills and relationships for higher functioning but developmentally challenged boys and girls, ages 6-22 years, in Orange County, California.

We play three sports per  year including basketball (January – March), baseball (April – June) and soccer (September – November). Online registration for each season generally occurs two months prior to the start of games. See the Sports tab on our website for more information on each sport.

For our athletes, our goals are to foster self-esteem, enhance social skills and build friendships. For our families, our goals are to strengthen relationships, provide support and develop community.



Our athletes are typically unable to fully participate in their local neighborhood youth sports program due to one or more of the following challenges:

  • Autism Spectrum Disorders;
  • Learning Disabilities;
  • Down Syndrome or Cerebral Palsy; and/or
  • Other mild physical & emotional disabilities.

Programs are co-ed and offer participants an opportunity to build self-esteem, create friendships, experience teamwork and have lots of fun. Parent participation is encouraged so plan for an enjoyable experience for the entire family where long lasting friendships are formed and everyone has fun and grows.

We offer three sports seasons per year including basketball, baseball and soccer. Games are organized according to the age of the athlete as described below. For baseball and soccer, the three age divisions typically play on Saturdays but at different times throughout the day. For basketball, Divisions 3 and 2 play on Saturdays while Division 1 plays on Sundays and at a different location.

  • Division 3: Ages 6 to 9 years
  • Division 2: Ages 9 to 13 years
  • Division 1: Ages 13 to 22 years



Melissa Cory
President, Board of Directors
Occupational Therapist
Andrew Vander Dussen
Vice President, Board of Directors
MRI Field Engineer, GE Healthcare
Cathy Sullivan
Secretary, Board of Directors
Special Education Teacher
Dalia Viera
Treasurer, Board of Directors

Jessi Dunne
Board of Directors
Consumer Relations Consultant

Sam Lau

Board of Directors

Sales Director, Strategic Solutions, Cybera

Tiffany Campbell
Board of Directors
Marketing Director, Captain’s Auction Warehouse



Founded in 2004, Spirit League was created by parents of a child with learning and motor skill challenges who had trouble keeping up with his peers on the playground and in the neighborhood. They wanted to provide their child an opportunity to have a “team” experience and participate at his level of ability, in an organized sports league.


Back in 2004, Leslie and Mike Echolds felt that Orange County lacked a forum for “betweener” special needs kids to play sports, make friends, socialize and grow into adulthood. Little did they know what a need there was… or how deeply Spirit League would impact the lives of our long term “committed” players and families.

Their son, Jordan, started with Spirit League when he was 10 years old. He has grown as an athlete, as a person, and most importantly, has made many new friends. Today, while Leslie and Mike have lessened their involvement with Spirit League, they continue to support its wonderful work.

PARTNERS in 2016 and 2017

Pacific Life Foundation


Pacific Life – Life Insurance Division


McBeth Foundation

Mitsubishi Electric America Foundation

Mitsubishi Electric DREAM Committee


Autism Speaks


 Ueberroth Family Foundation

Captain’s Auction Warehouse, Anaheim


Talk About Curing Autism Conference

House of Blinds, Laguna Hills


 Adams & Associates, APLC

Easton Pacific Construction

Resort Asset Management

Mike and Leslie Echolds

Ken Segroves

Vicki Hartman

Kim-Lie Dang

James Horvitz

Denise Beck

Keith Kichline

Jeffrey Weyant

Ross Nakayama

Toshiro Ozawa

Jami Torgeson

Suyon Morgan-Stennett

Dana Dinica

Kelli Brock

Claudia Thurston

Chi Nyugen

Mark Delp

Aurora Knight

Lisa Curran

Dana Halle

Mary Amsden

Mosconi Family

Sarah ThompsonJennifer Puebla

Hongiun Liu

Martha Pedroza

Jacqueline Polanco

Michael Kinney

Peter Honer

Pat Alexander

Katie Barrios

Rammy Bahalul

Helen Wang

Won Byon

Cathy Waldman

Carol Koenigsberg

Deborah Molina

Susan Suh

Tracy Nguyen

Sarah Lawsky

David Gaarsoe

Theresa Sperle

Vamsi Paidi

Megan Clark

Matthew Brown

Ginny Berg

Metin Demircioglu

Lynda Taylor

Sam McDermott

Sean Kim

James Favero

Cedric Choan

Cristin Riedel

Marie Toney

Angela Wu

Melissa Zipnick

Kristie Skorina

Mikyung Park

Robert Shumski

Paul Lin

Karen Stockl

Kathleen Hughes

Steven Katzma


As a Coach, athletes and parents look to you to make the Spirit League experience the best it can be. Not only does the Spirit League coaching experience impact the lives of our amazing athletes, it impacts the lives of our coaches as well.



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