It’s not often you cross paths with a person at such a young age who is so grounded and personable as this young man we recently met.
Meet 15 year old Mikael Kingo, he’s an 04 goalie currently playing hockey in Ontario, Canada for the Vaughan Kings AAA hockey club. Mikael is a big goalie with an even bigger heart, who, like all kids playing youth ice hockey aspires to play in the NHL. With this young man’s drive and desire to succeed, it doesn’t appear to be out of the realm of possibility. Youth Hockey Info had an opportunity to chat with Mikael about his background, goals and charitable interests.
Here’s what he told us about his childhood and tireless efforts to give back to those in need and the less fortunate.
Where it all started
I was born in Canada to Swedish parents. When I was only a few months old, my parents decided to go back to Sweden. I was pretty sick as a baby with GERD which I eventually grew out of but I spent a lot of time in the hospital and it was hard on my parents without having other family around. We lived in Sweden for 3 years where my dad started his own company. My mom and sister and I spent our time outside. We lived in the middle of the woods in a summer house. I don’t remember much of that time but my mom always tells me she couldn’t ever keep me inside.
When we moved back to Canada at age 4, my mom took me to small fry skating. There were 5 groups and I was moved up to the “hockey group” in just a few weeks. When I started playing Bloma House League I met Becky Kellar. Wow, she had some pretty amazing stories about winning gold at the Olympics and World Championships. She was an incredible coach and she is still a big part of my life today. We rotated goalies and Beck told my parents I should try out for rep, (the highest level of youth hockey) after I was named MVP when we won the Bloma Cup . They didn’t even know what that meant. When they got the form they checked both boxes player and goalie. I wanted to play goalie, but it was expensive. I borrowed pads from the rink and I tried out in player skates. My mom always tells me the story of how another player’s dad was making jokes about the kid in player skates and ill fit pads until I started saving the puck. He was saying, “what’s that kid doing trying out for goalie he doesn’t even have equipment“? When it was my turn in net my mom tapped him on the shoulder and said, “that’s my son, and he IS a goalie”!
Mikael early on as he gets started with his youth hockey career
I made rep that year. I started a little business “necklaces by the kid”. I made necklaces and sold them. I gave half of my earnings to complex care patients in the hospital and I saved the other half to finally buy my own used pads on kijiji. Rebook black and white pads, I will never forget it. The rest is history. I played AAA for the Burlington Eagles for 6 years before I went to the GTHL, (Greater Toronto Hockey League).
I learned at an early age that even though we didn’t have much when I was much younger there were a lot of people who had even less. My mom would visit patients in long term complex care hospitals taking my sister and I along with her. We would draw cards and buy the patients small Christmas gifts and talk about how blessed we were to have each other and our health. Those visits eventually became my passion as well and grew into the the Angel Project.
When I was in grade 6, Dad’s business was doing well and my mom had started a business as well. My parents were always super involved. Mom volunteered at school, ran her charity her business and a small Swedish school out of our home. Mom started getting really tired and really skinny. My sister and I knew something was wrong. Over the next 4 years she spent a lot of time in the hospital. She had 8 surgeries and sepsis. One time when she was home she almost pushed dad and I out the door to go to a tournament in buffalo. She said she would be fine. At one o’clock in the morning my dad woke me up and said he had to go to mom. Then he came back in a few minutes later and carried me to the car. He was on speaker phone with the hospital the whole ride back from Buffalo. I didn’t say anything. Mom was on life support in ICU. We were called in to say goodbye.
Playing hockey was where I felt safe, at the rink. As a goalie you are a bit different. I would focus everything I had just on that next shot. I know that hockey is what kept me together through that time. Dad was at the hospital with mom, he is amazing. He would drive back and forth and arrange rides and food and then back to sit with her by her side.
Kingo family holiday photo
Somehow, my mom made it through. She is still sick but she is here and I have my family.
Aspirations and ambitions
Playing in the GTHL is incredible. It is all about the team, not the individual. A new kind of brotherhood. The quality of players and coaching is second to none. I play for the Vaughn Kings. I have been lucky enough to travel to Europe and play at the WSI, (World Select Invite) tournaments 3 times and this past Spring I played in the WSI Philadelphia Tournament, the pre-draft Pro Bauer Tournament, (which we won) and I will go to Boston for the Chowder Cup in July.
Mikael tending the net during Kings game from this past season
I probably had to grow up a bit faster than most because of our circumstances but it’s only made me stronger. I am very close with my goalie coach, Ryan Munce, and my Spring coach Tom Pethnic. I have known them for a really long time and they mentor me. My parents let me make my own decisions in hockey, it is my sport.
I had a good year last year and I’m working hard at getting even stronger. I accepted a position at the Hill Academy this September so I am very excited about what next year will bring. As a goalie I believe minor midget is not as big of a year as it is for a player. Goalies usually need a bit more time. But hey, of course we all have dreams of playing at the next level. I would also like to study business. I have been running a little side business for as long as I can remember. I want to give back and I want to do something that matters.
Other interests and personal idol(s)
I love almost every sport especially skiing and snowboarding in the winter. I was on my high school tennis team and used to play rep soccer before it became too much with hockey but I’m always at the field kicking the ball around. In the summer I also love golf, wake boarding and water skiing; everything really.
I look up to my mom, she taught me how to put others before myself. And even though people may never know what you do for them ‘YOU’ know you make a difference and that’s what matters. You can’t just walk away. It can be the scariest thing in the world to stand up but once you do others usually stand with you. Be brave enough to stand up first. And no matter how bad things may seem there are people who have it worse and if everyone does a little we can change so much.
Giving back and charitable responsibility
Growing up it was always part of our family. You give back when you can and you help each other. I got really involved the last few years when I noticed I could actually make a real difference. Recently, I learned of a father who had two young sons. He was in the hospital for 2 1/2 years, he needed money to be able to go home so he could build a ramp and get a chair lift. I know how hard it is to be without a parent so I took to social media and raised the money he needed in just a couple of days. I am also an ambassador at the Angel Tournament since I became too old to play in it.
Mikael and mother, Lisette at a past Angel Tournament
The patients we help are in long term complex care, some have been there for years all alone. It is heartbreaking. Did you know that someone who is involved in a bad accident or requires critical care is responsible to pay a co-payment of 25% to get a custom wheel chair or a special computer to speak? Our patients are mostly left behind by their family and friends and they have no way of organizing the funding they need so they remain bed ridden without a voice. I feel I have to help. It’s so wrong and I want to make it right.
My latest initiative was something different, something simple. My parents asked what I wanted for my birthday and I thought about it. I have everything I could ask for. So I decided to find a young goalie who may be struggling so I could donate $250 towards pads for him or her. And amazingly when I put that on Twitter, a company reached out and offered to match my donation. I am currently collecting social media responses to select the donation recipient. I hope to grow my initiative and make it an annual event.
If interested in helping with donations anyone can donate through the Angel Project website. There is a “notes” section in which donations can be submitted to a patient or a goalie in need.
Mikael and mom at this past season’s Angel Tournament. Mikael has aged out and can no longer participate on the ice
I don’t ask for, or do this for recognition. When I graduated grade 8 I was selected to win the “Inspire scholarship” for my 10 years of leadership and anti-bullying initiative in school. It was based on my stance that as an “athlete” it is our job to stand up for others and make them feel included. No one should ever be alone. I always get our hockey team involved in shopping for patients and fulfilling their wishes. Somewhere along the line Scotia Bank Hockey contacted me. They informed me they had heard about my initiative. They were kind enough to treat me to the most incredible day with the incredible Auston Matthews. I don’t feel deserving I’m just doing what I think is right.
Recently, past hockey great and Hockey Hall of Famer, Doug Gilmour began working with me. He has met many of our patients and like me he fell in love with helping them. Our next Angel Tournament is Nov. 22nd and we actually get patients out to be a part of it too! Any support of raffle drawings or donations would be greatly appreciated. PS… “TAP”, (The Angel Project) works with all volunteers and no overhead.
Doug Gilmour and Mikael Kingo photo-op
Mikael’s 1st Annual Birthday Sponsorship Recipient
Mikael Kingo’s first ever Twitter born “Birthday Sponsorship
After careful consideration of all responses I have received, I have chosen an 11 year old goalie as the 1st recipient to receive my “Birthday Sponsorship” donation. Due to his age I am not permitted to share his name. He suffers mental health issues and has dealt with bullying throughout his childhood. His family struggles financially and are unable to provide new equipment for him. I will be surprising him on the ice with a check for his parents in order to purchase him new goalie pads. In addition, I will be providing lots of other surprises as well.