WILMINGTON, N.C. - UNCW's student-athletes hope their seventh appearance in the Cape Fear Literacy Council's "Spelling Bee for Literacy" is a lucky one when the event kicks off Thursday night at the Scottish Rite Temple.
Three members of the track and field team will battle with several other teams from the area for first place in the annual event, which serves as a fund-raiser for the CFLC. Si Cantwell of the Wilmington Star-News and WECT-TV's Frances Weller will be hosts for the 7 p.m. competition.
"It's a chance to do something they probably would never have done," retired broadcaster and longtime supporter Wayne Jackson said of UNCW's entrants. "They get out into the community and it helps people see students and say, 'Hey, they're pretty sharp.' They see some of the students in a different way than they might have. I think it's a win-win situation all the way around."
Jackson, who still broadcasts women's basketball games for the Seahawks, began sponsoring UNCW student-athletes in 2004. He is a strong advocate for the CFLC and praises the work they have done. Each year, he vows to "keep getting those Seahawk spellers."
This year, Jackson reached out to the track team and quickly got volunteers. Representing the Seahawks this year are runners Kelly Carmichael, Taylor Holt, and Becky Boulay. They follow in the footsteps of last year's team, a group of baseball players who called themselves the "Tyrana-thesauruses."
Carmichael, a former spelling bee champion and English minor, hopes to use his experiences to his advantage. "I was my school's eighth grade spelling bee champion," said Carmichael. "I studied really hard for it, and I'm hoping that work carries over into this competition."
Holt, meanwhile, is anxious to make her debut in the spelling bee. "I'm excited to work together and share this new experience with my teammates. I look forward to competing against everyone and I hope our team will be successful. We love having the opportunity to not only represent our school, but also help our community in a fun and rewarding way."
Prizes will be awarded to the teams with the best name, best costume, and loudest cheering section. Admission is free. For more information, contact the Cape Fear Literacy Council at (910) 251-0911.