Both in life and in death, Kalix Langenau found a way to help the city’s young athletes pursue their goals.
Prior to the 19-year-old's death in February 2020, Langenau was an instructor for Explosive Edge Athletic Development – an Airdrie-based sport development business that offers local athletes supplemental training opportunities. The Explosive Edge, which is located in East Lake Industrial Park, provides individual and group skill development, dry-land and on-ice conditioning sessions for local athletes in hockey, figure skating, soccer, baseball and other sports.
Langenau had trained with the Explosive Edge as a hockey goalie throughout his teens and was an instructor for group goalie sessions.
“He's sorely missed in a great community like ours, where we have a lot of youth that want to take on the responsibility of showing the next generation what sport can be,” said Chris Bergman, co-founder of the Explosive Edge. “We definitely miss his energy and the love and vibe he brought to the facility.”
Langenau was killed in February 2020 – his body was found in a rural field southeast of the city on Feb. 17 that year, two days after he had been reported missing. An autopsy confirmed the manner of his death was a homicide, and then-19-year-old Hunter Van Mackelberg was later arrested and charged with second-degree murder.
According to Bergman, before Langenau's passing, he had said he wanted to donate his final paycheque to a local family facing financial barriers, to help their children access the Explosive Edge’s programming.
“His drive was to just encourage people to love sports and not have barriers like financing be a part of it,” Bergman said. “It wasn't necessarily for registration, it was also for equipment. He was trying to figure out a way to get kids geared up.”
To honour Langenau’s memory and that wish, his parents John Langenau and Tracy Henderson, John's wife Betina Fillion and Kalix's aunt Kelly Henderson created the Kalix Langenau Legacy Sponsorship Fund in 2020, in partnership with the Explosive Edge and East Side Sports. According to the Explosive Edge's website, the fund will provide grants covering 50 to 100 per cent of the cost of equipment or registration, depending on funds available and applicant qualification, for athletes 18 and younger to obtain equipment and participate in the Explosive Edge’s programs.
While the COVID-19 pandemic has limited the business' ability to offer programs in the last year, Bergman said he hopes local families will be able to benefit from the fund.
Eligible participants include low-income households facing social or economic barriers, families on the Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped (AISH) program or those receiving other government income support.
Bergman said the legacy fund will be a way to remember and honour the positive impact Langenau had on the city’s young hockey players.
“He was a great kid,” Bergman said. “He was always the one looking to make someone smile. We'd have a staff meeting and it would be a serious conversation, and he would be trying to figure out where he could put himself in there to make everyone laugh.
“On the ice, it was always about bringing passion and enjoyment to what we're doing, and that's really what sport is all about,” Bergman added. “[Sports are] supposed to bring people together and he was the kind of guy who people wanted to be around. He would make kids look forward to the next session.”