WASHINGTON,May 29 – Neither nerves nor stage fright will distract Emmy Williams from competing in Wednesday's Scripps National Spelling Bee.
One of 286 spellers,Emmy will compete in the annual contest in hopes of surpassing the preliminary spelling rounds and earning a spot in the semi-finals,which will be broadcast live on ESPN Thursday morning.
The 14-year-old,who competed in the bee two years ago,is surprisingly calm about the competition.
“I'm a little nervous,but I'm just going to do the best that I can,” Emmy said. “If I do a good job,then I'll be happy.”
Emmy said she is looking forward to a great week in Washington. With a schedule full of events such as picnics and a tour of Annapolis,Md.,she not only gets to compete in the contest,she gets to interact with hundreds of other kids.
“It's pretty cool,” Emmy said. “I get to meet people from all over the place.”
Although Emmy,an eighth-grader at Seneca Middle School,studied hard for the regional spelling bee,she has found little time to prepare for the national competition.
Final exams,dance recitals,choir practice and a recent trip to Providence,R.I.,for the national Scrabble competition have kept Emmy busy. Her team placed 63rd out of 100 teams.
“We're relying on her natural ability to spell,” mom Michelle Williams chuckled.
Emmy said she prepares for spelling competitions as if she were actually there. Her mom reads from the list of words,pronouncing them as best she can,Emmy said,giggling. Then,if necessary,Emmy asks for the definition and etymology.
If she misspells the word,she and her mom check for any tricks that might help her remember the correct spelling.
“Some of them we find humorous,” Emmy said,referring to her encounter with the word “sitzmark,” which describes a sunken area in the snow marking a skier's backward fall. “Sit” and “mark” became her clues.
Wednesday morning,Emmy and the other spellers will take a written test and compete in the first oral round. Shortly after lunchtime,she will know if she's made it to the quarterfinals. By 5:30 p.m.,the semi-finalists will be chosen. The bee concludes Thursday live on ABC from 8 to 10 p.m.
Despite Emmy's knack for spelling,her first loves are math and science. Having taken geometry this past year,Emmy said she is “leaning toward engineering” as the career of choice.
She spoke enthusiastically about the new biomedical engineering course at her school,which she plans to take in the fall.
“It sounds really fascinating,” Emmy said. “I like to help people,and the course has to do with finding cures for diseases and illnesses.”
“She's a very compassionate person,” her mother said.
Having been in Washington for three days already,Emmy is ready to compete.
“I'm really excited,” she said. “It's amazing just to be here and see the other spellers.”
The Scripps National Spelling Bee is in its 80th year and features speller from all 50 states Canada,Guam,U.S. Virgin Islands,Bahamas,Jamaica,New Zealand and Europe