Long Island University Volleyball Finds Its Captain: KS Maui Alum Kale Spencer

Jan. 12, 2023

The last thing Kale Spencer, KSM’22, expected was for his Long Island University volleyball coaches to announce that his teammates had chosen him to be one of three team captains, especially with him being in his freshman year.

But that’s exactly what happened right as the burgeoning team is ramping up for its spring season.

“Out of the nine or 10 freshmen on the team, I don’t think anyone would have predicted one of us would be picked to be a captain,” Spencer said. “Honestly, I was shocked. But I’m so thankful that my coaches and teammates see leadership skills in me.”

Volleyball is a fairly new sport for the New York-based college, and the team faces a steep climb this season. On Feb. 22 and 24, the team will challenge back-to-back National Collegiate Athletic Association champions, University of Hawaiʻi-Mānoa Rainbow Warriors. But Spencer isn’t fazed.

“The guys on this team have been playing for many years. Day by day we’re getting better. I’m confident that when we do come to Hawaiʻi, we’ll be ready,” he said.

The Hawaiʻi High School Athletic Association Hall of Honor inductee is no stranger to leadership — academically or athletically. He served as president of Associated Students of Kamehameha Schools Maui his senior year. He was team captain of KS Maui’s volleyball, basketball and football teams, too, leading them to Maui Interscholastic League and state championship games.

“Kale is what you want every player to be,” said Rob Brede, KS Maui’s volleyball coach. “I’m not surprised at all that his LIU teammates would pick him as captain.”

Brede recalled watching Spencer tackle a player from the opposing football team during the state championship game. 

“He went over there and picked up that player to check on him. That moment brought tears to my eyes. It showed what kind of person he is. He’s unbelievable,” Brede said.

What impresses Brede the most about Spencer is his ability to rise above adversity. Spencer was in the seventh grade when his dad Bala Spencer, KSM’s long-time wāhine volleyball coach, suffered a life-altering stroke. 

“I don’t want to speak for Kale, but with all he’s gone through, there’s a deep motivation in him to produce and make his father proud,” Brede said.

Spencer admits his love of sports, especially volleyball, is something of a family business. His sister Logan plays volleyball for Whitworth University. And Kale is studying sports management with aspirations to come home to Hawaiʻi and coach athletics.

“I was around sports all the time — I learned to love it. I want to start something at home that’s sports related, somehow helping the community that helped me first,” he said.

For now, he has a lot of exploring to do. Based in New York City, Spencer said he’s just a short subway ride from some of the best cultural treasures in the world. He recalled wandering through the halls of the Metropolitan Museum of Art for hours recently.

“There are so many opportunities here, and I want to experience them all,” he said.

As for Coach Brede, he’ll be sitting in the stands watching Spencer play against UH-Mānoa in February.

“Oh, I wouldn’t miss it,” Brede said.