posted March 02, 2018
Super Fan didn’t arrive from another planet. Nor was he transformed by the bite of a radioactive arachnid. It wasn’t even his TV remote that altered Spencer Kale into Mr. Volleyball, but it was the start.
“The very day that I was accepted to UPJ, I happened to be scrolling through TV channels and saw the 2013 PSAC Championship game at Shippensburg, so naturally I had to put that on,” the Knoch High (Butler County) grad recalled.
“I saw them celebrating the championship point and, from that moment on, I always had a special connection to the team because I remember thinking: ‘maybe one day I will get to know them’ and, ‘my goodness, we are good.’”
In Pitt-Johnstown volleyball, Kale found a squad that became the perfect object of his vast affection for athletic competition in general and teams in specific.
“I absolutely would consider myself an overall sports fan,” said the senior marketing major. “Any type of athletic event, no matter what it may be, is an interest of mine. If I have a reason to support my team then I am ALL IN on that sporting event.
“I want to get a job in a social media/marketing field, especially in the sports arena. Hey, who knows, maybe being a volleyball coach is even a part of my future!”
He went from fan to fixture at volleyball matches. In the process, Kale endeared himself to the team and university.
“I went to all of the home games, but the road games were much more difficult because I did not have a car on campus my first two years," he said. "However, once I had my car at school, I took my fandom to the next level. I attended just about all of the games and it started to become like just another class for me."
The feelings of admiration turned out to be mutual. Volleyball Coach Joanna Haupt acknowledged the extra level of Kale's heartfelt dedication.
"Spencer’s dedication to this volleyball team has been amazing. An example of that was how he avoided (scheduling) any classes on Fridays this fall so that he could travel to our away games and tournaments," she said.
"Every program needs a Spencer, but we are the only one that has one!"
In time, Mr. Kale became Mr. Volleyball.
“I completely surrounded myself with the team, from getting to know the players, to closely following the standings and the rankings of the team," he said. "Looking back on things, the best games were the road games. I loved arriving at another school's gym, sometimes outside of Pennsylvania, and seeing some of the reactions on our players faces as they realized that I made the trip to come cheer them on! It was always more fun to win on the road, especially in conference play.”
The most significant road win was one that secured the PSAC championship in 2017.
“PSAC Champions! It was a dream that I thought we may never achieve but we finally did and the way we did it was absolutely perfect, coming back from 0-2 down vs. Gannon, AT Gannon,” he recalled.
The team received its due recognition with a campus celebration and its No. 1 fan received his due as well in the form of a championship ring.
“I did get a ring along with the team and that was just another piece of a long list of special moments that involve this group – they’re more than just a conference championship volleyball team, we are one big UPJ Volleyball family," he said. "It has been an absolute honor to be recognized by the team, but it has been even more special to become part of the volleyball family. "
Mountain Cat volleyball team members agreed.
"Spencer is one of a kind," said senior Cambria Wierman. "He is so vibrant and full of energy! I'm so glad that he was a part of UPJ Volleyball."
"UPJ Volleyball would not have been the same without our Super Fan Spencer Kale," said senior Devan Orr. "It was so fun to look up in the stands and see him there supporting us, even at the away games. I am so happy UPJ Volleyball not only gave me a team full of friends, but a friend like Spencer."
"His personality and charisma are out of this world," said junior Maura Brehl. "He has a love and passion, not only for this school but for life, that I've never seen in anyone else before.
"I'm proud to call him a friend and volleyball definitely would not have been the same without him. I'm going to miss him immensely next year."
In four years, Kale has gone from an observer who happened upon a volleyball match televised by the state's cable station to the team's Super Fan.
“No ring can ever replace the special unit that was assembled," he said. "Yes, many years from now the banner will still hang high in the Sports Center, and, yes we will all have our rings to remember the title, but the true memories are all of the little moments that happened off the court. That is what made this season truly unforgettable.”
The University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown is marking was founded in 1927 and is the first and largest regional campus of the University of Pittsburgh. Pitt-Johnstown is recognized by the Princeton Review as a “Best in the Northeast” college, by G.I. Jobs as a “Military Friendly School,” and by Pennsylvania Business Central as a "Top 100 Organization.” The distinctive combination of Pitt-Johnstown’s people, programs, and place results in exceptional performance in preparing students for career and professional success. Pitt-Johnstown is the regional leader, educating for success in the Real World.