WASHINGTON,May 29 – Matthew Mitchell seems like a typical 11-year-old. He plays baseball and the piano,loves Harry Porter and aspires to be a businessman.
Besides that,he is one of 286 competitors in this week's Scripps National Spelling Bee.
The confident Matthew is ready for his chance at glory,not thinking too much about the pressure. “I have no nerves,I just want to go out and have fun,” he said.
Matthew beat out 31 junior and elementary school students at the 23rd annual Times Record News Midwestern State University Regional for his chance at the national title.
“I was surprised. He studied and did mostly everything on his own,” said his mother,Amy Mitchell.
The competitors keep busy during their week in Washington. Matthew visited Mount Vernon Tuesday and went swimming.
He will know shortly after lunchtime Wednesday if his score on the written test and first oral round are high enough to send him into the quarterfinals that afternoon. By 5:30 Wednesday,he'll know if he's made it to Thursday's semi-finals.
Matthew,who loves spelling,began attending spelling meets at age 8. “He would buy spelling books with his own money,” his mother said.
Besides spelling,Matthew is a third baseman for his school's baseball team,the Notre Dame Knights. He is also a member of the National Association of Piano Guild,an organization of teacher and student pianist.
So when does Matthew have anytime to practice for the spelling bee? “I have a lot of extra time on my hands,” he said. His teacher,Pat Dasher,helped him prepare.
As for preparation in Washington,Matthew's mother is here to help. “She will say a word and I will spell it out” he said.
Matthew has two younger brothers,Brett,7,and Connor,5,but his biggest fan is dad,Glen. “He is always proud of me,” Matthew said.
They are all at home,hoping he'll make it to the televised rounds Thursday so they can watch.
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. The semi-finals are televised on ESPN Thursday morning,and the finals are from 8 to 10 p.m.,Thursday live on ABC.