OXON HILL, Md. – It's easy to spot the families who've been to the Scripps National Spelling Bee more than once.
Participants get an official T-shirt every year. Parents and older siblings often sport vintage tees from prior visits.
Tamya Matthews of Clinton, Maryland, wore her T-shirt from last year while taking this year's preliminary spelling and vocabulary test, calling it a "throwback Tuesday."
No sibling of a previous champion has ever won, but this year's competition is stacked with contestants who've watched older brothers or sisters. Thirty-six spellers have relatives who've competed. Three past champions have siblings in the competition.
Parents say that it's tough to prepare for the bee and that watching a sibling can make it easier.
Spellers get their first crack at the national stage Wednesday. Semifinals and finals are Thursday.