Recent KSM graduate overcomes adversity and becomes rising alakaʻi

Nov. 7, 2022

There’s an ʻōlelo noʻeau that aptly describes the adversity that standout haumāna, alakaʻi and athlete Kale Spencer KSM’22 has overcome: He ʻaʻaliʻi kū makani mai au; ʻaʻohe makani nāna e kulaʻi. I am a wind-resisting ʻaʻaliʻi plant; no gust can push me over.

Spencer was in the seventh grade when his makua kāne and mentor Charles “Bala” Spencer suffered a major stroke that left him paralyzed and unable to speak. “My father had a stroke in late 2016 and from then, there's been a lot of tears and a lot of work that we've had to do to get to where we are today,” said Spencer.

Where Kale is today is quite impressive. After leading the KS boys volleyball team to a league title, The Maui News named him the Maui Interscholastic League Boy Athlete of the Year. He was also selected to the Hawaii High School Athletic Association Hall of Honor. Spencer is the first KSM haumāna to earn either of these major accolades.

Throughout high school, the 6’5” Spencer was a three-sport standout in football, basketball and volleyball. But of the three, volleyball is where he truly excelled. And that should come as no surprise, his dad was the KSM girls volleyball coach for 10 years, and his older sister Logan is playing college volleyball in Washington State.

“I think with my dad being the coach for so many years and me being in the gym and just watching all the teams that passed through, I think I've grown to love volleyball, and that's really where I want to be in the future,” Spencer says.

His star athlete status is only one small part of what makes Spencer such a standout. “When given the opportunity to lead, he was one of the best and most inspirational leaders that has ever led Kamehameha Schools Maui.” That high praise comes from Vanessa Ching, KSM’s student activity coordinator and Spencer’s former kumu.

Spencer’s list of leadership roles is quite extensive. He represented KSM at the Maui Student Council Organization, and he was president of the Associated Students of the Kamehameha Schools during his senior year. He mentored other classmates through volleyball clinics, and even traveled regularly to Oʻahu to compete in Outrigger volleyball tournaments against the best young volleyball players across the pae ʻāina.

Kumu Ching remembers fondly the time he and other alakaʻi stepped up to lead sixth and ninth-grade student orientation while she was on maternity leave. “I think that when giving those students opportunities to lead and believing in them and supplying them with tools and support, they can really become the ʻōiwi leaders they're meant to be.”

Spencer offered this take on lessons learned as an alakaʻi: “ʻŌiwi leadership to me is someone that can lead through Hawaiian values and also lead through their actions and their words. For me, both of those were very much developed in student government and really helped me to be a leader and an ʻōiwi leader for the school, and I was really grateful for that opportunity.”

Having graduated in spring of this year and with all the athletic accolades, one might expect Spencerʻs next destination to be a college volleyball powerhouse like U.H. Mānoa, Long Beach State or UCLA, but he has chosen a path less traveled and is attending Long Island University in New York on an academic scholarship. The school also has a burgeoning volleyball program and you can bet Spencer will be a star there both on, and off the court.

Student-athlete and alaka‘i Kale Spencer KSM’22 has overcome adversity and excelled in academics to become an ‘ōiwi leader who would make Ke Ali‘I Pauahi proud. Spencer plans to attend Long Island University on an academic scholarship. The school has a burgeoning volleyball program and you can bet Spencer will be a star there both on, and off the court.