McALLEN – As the days for the Scripps National Spelling Bee inched closer to becoming a reality, Veena Namboodiri was having mixed emotions before heading off to the east coast Sunday.
Namboodiri, 13, always knew her stronger suit was spelling since childhood.
“Every since elementary, I always tried to engage in the classroom spelling bees,” Namboodiri said. “After many years when I didn’t win the classroom spelling bee, I felt like I needed to try more, so in fifth grade I won the classroom one and I made to the school spelling bee and from there I won the school spelling bee and in district I got in the top 10, but I didn’t win.”
Before reaching the national stage in Washington D. C., students began their journey in their own classroom, then be the frontrunner for their school, then move on to district, and eventually being a finalist in the regionals.
“I started feeling, wow! I’m pretty good at this,” she said. “In sixth grade, I went to the school one and I didn’t advance and now in eighth grade, I felt like I should try it again because I knew there was a spark before and I studied even more and tried really hard. Every day I would come home and I would study a lot of words. I never thought I would win the regional spelling bee.”
Namboodiri explained she was in a mental and emotional rollercoaster before winning the regional spelling bee, which took place in March at TSTC in Harlingen.
“There were 50 participants and every one of those participants won in their district. I was like ‘the best spellers in the region and I’m not going win, but it’s good to say I did participate in the regional spelling bee,’” she said. “It was less people and then there was 10 people left and then I thought is it the next word that’s going to take me out and pretty soon it was three then two. I thought even then it’s going to be so sad that I’ll lose and get second place and then I actually won.”
Namboodiri will be one of 519 students from the United States to participate in the 2018 Scripps National Spelling Bee and will be representing the Rio Grande Valley on the national stage.
“I’m mainly nervous, but mostly excited for the experience,” she said. “I’m hopeful, but at the same time I’m really proud to have gotten there.”
As the Scripps National Spelling Bee will be going live this week, she will have the support of her family, who will be by her side as she takes the stage. South Texas Preparatory Academy in Edinburg will also be cheering on their student, and live-streaming the event in the school.
During the spelling bee rounds, the questions that a contestant can ask regarding the word given to them include its definitions, use in a sentence, language of origin, part of speech and alternate pronunciation.
“My strategies have gotten a lot better because since it will be nationals, I’ve been preparing more,” she said. “Also I’ve been taking a class (in school) to prepare for the national spelling bee.”
Hari Namboodiri, Veena’s dad said he was nervous and excited when she won regional’s, but is always very focused in what she wants.
“I always believed that trying is better than winning, so she tried and fortunate to represent RGV,” he said. “I’m a very proud parent through commitment, dedication and perseverance paid off and that’s how I feel.”
“We never had an experience like that and never thought that she would get it,” he said. “I had the confidence and optimism and positivity that she was going to be the champion at regionals, but once she became the champion, the reality set-in and now we to be ready for the challenge.”
Hari also thanked AIM Media Texas for being a sponsor of the Rio Grande Valley Regional Spelling Bee and a supporter of his daughter, Veena by rooting her at the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington D.C.
Tues., May 29 at 8:15 a.m. and Wed., May 30 at 7 a.m. on ESPN 3
Thurs., May 31, part 1 at 9 a.m. on ESPN 2 with part 2 following at 7:30 p.m. on ESPN.