We Are UNCW Telling our story, one Seahawk at a time.

Laura Spivey, Faculty, College of Health and Human Services

February 24, 2015

To students on campus and in the community, Laura Spivey is more than a UNCW lecturer and mentor. She is a PAL.

When the Wilmington Police Department approached the School of Health and Applied Human Sciences (SHAHS) two years ago about UNCW increasing its role in the Police Athletic League (PAL) program, Spivey and many other SHAHS colleagues jumped at the opportunity. 

They knew the partnership would provide UNCW students with applied learning experiences while increasing the university’s involvement in the community. As part of the UNCW College of Health and Human Services, SHAHS is dedicated to helping individuals, families and communities live healthier, more prosperous and more productive lives.

“I got really excited about our students becoming more involved with such an impactful program,” Spivey said. “We began to outline what we could do.”

The result is a priceless experience for both the youth involved in the program, which promotes gang resistance and awareness through competitive basketball, and the UNCW students and faculty who mentor them.

The PAL program is free for youth involved in the Community and Brigade Boys & Girls Clubs.  The only requirement for participants is to maintain their academics and positive attitudes at home, school and on the court. Police officials hope the interaction between UNCW faculty and students will inspire young people to pursue a college education. In addition to the boys and girls clubs, the university, Wilmington Police and the community support the PAL.

Last year, the program’s Crosstown Championship was held at Trask Coliseum for the first time. Spivey barely contains her excitement as she remembers the game.

“It was a phenomenal environment for the kids. It was almost like a college championship game,” she said.

The league will wrap up its current season during the PAL's Crosstown Championship on March 5. The all-stars of the two clubs will face-off at 5 p.m. at Trask. The championship game is a collaboration sponsored by UNCW Athletics, the SHAHS and Wilmington Police.

Spivey recruits students and faculty to volunteer as coaches, referees or scorekeepers for PAL. UNCW students also gain practicum experience or participate in internships through the program.  

“These experiences are immeasurable,” she said. “Students take what they have learned and apply it to real-world experiences. You can’t put a price on that. I am a huge supporter of applied learning opportunities, and this one is sort of the World Series of applied learning.  They have so many opportunities from these kinds of events.”

It’s heartwarming to see the relationships that develop between the youth and their student mentors, Spivey said. The biggest takeaway for the kids, besides bragging rights for the Crosstown Champions and recognition for each child’s accomplishments, is knowing there are people on the UNCW campus and in the Wilmington community who care about them.

“They have a support network that is greater than what they thought,” Spivey said.

-- Venita Jenkins