Spelling bees are interesting. With the exception of the few occasions, including the past two years, when there were co-champions, there is always only one person hoisting the coveted spelling bee trophy. The odds of winning the bee are one in approximately 11 million. With those kinds of crazy chances, how easy can it be for anyone to predict the winner?
To add to this impossible situation, there are so many factors that play into the eventual winner claiming the title. First, there is the level of preparation that person has put into spelling. How does anyone know how a particular speller has prepared that year, except for the speller themselves? Moreover, no one can know how that preparation compares with the preparation of other competitors. Another piece of the puzzle is the grit, composure, and endurance needed to face the cameras and continue to spell the words correctly each time the speller is at the microphone.
In spite of all of this, there is still a small element of luck in the competition. A champion almost always faces a word or two that they may not have studied or may not be able to recall on stage. It is that composure and a small sliver of luck that propels the speller to pull it off under the highly stressful condition; eventually leading them to winning the trophy.
In the many years of watching and being at the National Spelling Bee, I have seen a handful of spellers whom I felt were clearly capable of making it till the end get unlucky and encounter that one word that they were unable to tackle on stage. During this past decade and a half we have come to know a number of great spellers. My sister grew up watching Samir Patel spelling on TV and I have watched Nicholas Rushlow for a long time. They both were incredible spellers, having some of the most impressive records at the spelling bee with years of experience and drive to improve each year. Our families have become very good friends of the Rushlows and in my opinion, along with Samir, Nicholas is one of the top spellers of all time. He is still a winner in our hearts and he is such a great role model for up and coming spellers.
This year, there are several returning finalists and semifinalists, some of whom I shared the stage with last year, that are going to do phenomenally in the competition. There will also be contestants who are crowd favorites, like Dev and Cole in 2015, that will put on an amazing showing and rock the stage. There will always be a few first timers that will get deeper into the competition and amaze the crowd. If you have some favorites we should watch out for, feel free to comment on this post.
What makes the bee so special is the constant suspense of which speller will push harder and can survive the bright lights and big stage. I have no doubt that the 2016 Bee is going to be a thriller and I just can’t wait to see the veteran spellers and the rookies alike compete and show off their spelling skills. Let’s celebrate all the finalists of this year’s bee and support them equally. Are you ready for Bee Week 2016, to cheer on all the spellers and wait to see who will be crowned champion?
Stay tuned for more commentary as we get closer to Bee Week!!