By: Dayna Worchel
When Cassidy Lange has a goal to reach, he doesn’t let anything get in the way. The 26 year-old, newly promoted assistant general manager of the Corpus Christi IceRays hockey team, walked into the IceRays office at the American Bank Center on a recent weekday morning ready to get to work. He greeted coworkers, and then checked the upcoming schedule for the North American Hockey League team, while he joked around with Scott McClarren, the director of special events for the IceRays. The season begins in October.
The atmosphere seemed relaxed, and so did Lange, who walks with two canes and has dealt with cerebral palsy all of his life. The condition affects muscle tone, movement and motor skills. “It’s a multi-layered thing,” said Lange of the cerebral palsy. “I don’t let anything get in my way. It’s hard to get up in the morning because my legs and body feel tight. My hamstrings get real tight, but I always get up in the morning and go to work. I try to act like a normal human being. I am 26, and have had it all my life.”
Lange, who graduated from Texas A&M University – Corpus Christi with a bachelor’s degree in communications, was recently promoted from account executive to assistant general manager of the organization. And he makes no secret about his love for ice hockey, which he has had since he was a very young boy.
“I love the fast-paced action. It’s not a boring sport. It’s a sport that keeps you on your toes, and on the edge of your seat. What I pride myself on is that once a customer comes to the game, they are hooked and might even see a fight,” he said with a grin.
He started working with the team as an intern back in 2007, when they were called the Rayz, under the previous ownership. “They gladly welcomed me in, gave me some experience in sales and got my feet wet,” Lange said.
But in 2008, it was decided that the team would go away because the Central Hockey League was no longer a fit for the Corpus Christi market, and the owner decided to sell. Lange was heartbroken, said Pat Dunn, IceRays general manager. “Cass got sick. He was down because hockey was going away,” said Dunn, who left the city shortly after the Rayz were put up for sale to go to the East Coast.
But Tim Lange, who is Cassidy Lange’s dad and a Corpus Christi businessman, stepped up in the 24th hour to purchase the team as a high school graduation gift for his son. He told his family the news over a special dinner to celebrate. Lange has a twin brother, Zackry Lange, who does not have cerebral palsy and works as the general manager at Get Air Corpus Christi, a trampoline park in town.
“It’s here because of Cass,” said Dunn, who came back to the team at Tim Lange’s request. Dunn says Tim Lange is very modest, humble and generous, and is not one to want attention. Some people might say Cassidy Lange is spoiled to receive such a gift for a high school graduation, but anyone who knows him realizes that is not true, Dunn said.
“He’s passionate and a true inspiration,” Dunn said. “When you travel with him, you realize what he is going through just to put his shoes on.” Dunn considers him to be more than a coworker. “He’s my friend, and we want the best for him,” Dunn said.
Cassidy Lange has worked at a few different positions within the IceRays organization, including as an account executive and in community relations. He was promoted to assistant general manager in June. “I help Pat Dunn oversee the business,” he said. “I set up all the hockey camps, help the coaches do trades, help with player transactions and I assist in hockey operations. I help him in whatever he needs, and I do a lot of league administrative stuff.”
What he loves the most about his job is getting out and interacting with clients. “I like public relations and marketing,” he said. “I like to communicate with people, and I like the face-to-face interaction and shaking their hands. Some of my clients have become my friends. You never know who you will come across.”
Lange doesn’t allow his disability to affect his job. He was involved in Special Olympics from the third grade until his sophomore year in high school, and he competed in bowling, swimming, shot put and track. He was born and raised in Corpus Christi. “It was difficult to compete, but it was fun,” he said. “It was a great atmosphere and environment. Not everyone gets that experience. I’m grateful for the experience.”
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Photos courtesy of Corpus Christi IceRays and Mark Joseph/Darklab Photography