WILMINGTON, N.C. - UNCW student-athletes will test their spelling skills for the eighth straight year in the "Spelling Bee for Literacy" to benefit the Cape Fear Council for Literacy, a local non-profit organization that provides family literacy development services.  

Conducted on Thursday, Sept. 15, at the Scottish Rite Masonic Temple, the event begins at 7 p.m., when softball players Stacey Pinno, Nicole Tuttle and Katie Houmard will compete against nearly 25 other teams from the area.

"I've contributed to non-profits in Wilmington before, but this one will include my teammates and I think it will be a fun way for us to get involved in the community," said Pinno, a senior catcher from Nottingham, Pa. "I'm not the strongest speller, but I'll have my teammates there for support, both on my spelling team and in the cheering section so hopefully we come home with a trophy."

The softball team will join a long list of Seahawks that have previously competed in the Spelling Bee, following in the footsteps of women's basketball, men's basketball, swimming and diving, women's golf, women's soccer, baseball and track and field.

Head softball coach Kelly Van Houten said her student-athletes are honored to have this opportunity. "We believe this event reminds everyone of the importance of reading and how we can help others by sharing the gift of literacy," said Van Houten.

UNCW women's basketball broadcaster and Seahawk benefactor Wayne Jackson reaches out to Seahawk student-athletes each year to keep them involved in the community event.

"The Spelling Bee allows student-athletes to get involved in their community and do something that they would not have normally done otherwise. It is an opportunity for them to enjoy themselves while doing something for a good cause," said Jackson.

"Most spelling bees have you stand up on stage by yourself but this one is divided into teams of three so participants work together to determine how to spell their word. It will definitely be a team effort for the girls and it will also important to have the rest of their softball team there for support," said Jackson.

Organizers have several special awards during the event. UNCW teams have won the "Loudest Cheering" honor twice, with Swimming and Diving winning it in 2006 followed by Women's Soccer in 2008.

Admission is free. For more information, individuals may contact the CFCL by visiting www.cfliteracy.org or calling 910-251-0911.