How To Bee

In case you missed it, the 88th Scripps National Spelling Bee finals were last Thursday, May 28th.

Vanya Shivashankar and Gokul Venkatachalam were this year’s co-champs – the Bee ran out of words after Gokul nailed “nunatak.”

(A nunatak is an isolated mountain peak projecting through the surface of surrounding glacial ice and supporting a distinct fauna and flora after recession of the ice. It’s also a brand of mountain gear.)

It was an enormously exciting competition but what gets me revved are the training details. How these kids get to be champions.

These impressively smart and disciplined kids don’t just start memorizing the dictionary at a young age. They start competing – they learn How To Bee.

Learning to perform under pressure is a key to their training. They learn how not to choke. How to be clutch.

As Vanya was quoted, “everything takes hard word and passion. That’s definitely what I put in and I know Gokul put that into this endeavor as well.”

That includes the MetLife South Asian Spelling Bee, now in its 8th season of prepping kids for the “Indian Super Bowl.” Regional events are held in cities around the US beginning June 13th with the finals in New Jersey in August. All the events are free to attend and open to the public which I’m seriously considering (free, air-conditioned, August, smart/inspiring young people).

The other noteworthy component is perseverance.

What separates the winners from everyone else is their willingness to put in the time over a long period of time. Years.

This takes a ton of dedication.

For the past 12 years, according to the Washington Post, the eventual champion made it all the way to the previous year’s televised portion. Both Vanya and Gokul made the finals last year. Gokul came in 3rd and this was Vanya’s 5th appearance in the Bee (fun fact: Vanya’s sister, Kavya, won the Bee in 2009).

They want it – and they work for it.