EDUCATION

Ex-spellers remain involved with National Spelling Bee

  • FILE - In this May 29, 2014 file photo, Jacob Williamson of Cape Coral, Fla., reacts after correctly spelling his word "harlequinade", during the semifinals of the Scripps National Spelling Bee at National Harbor in Oxon Hill, Md. The Scripps National Spelling Bee has a profound influence on the lives of many young people who participate. Year after year, they keep coming back. Williamson has taken on many roles in the two years since his memorable run to the finals at the Scripps National Spelling Bee. He's been a coach to younger spellers, an official at local bees, a scout who identifies promising young talent and, at times, a vocal critic of Scripps.  (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta, File)

    FILE - In this May 29, 2014 file photo, Jacob Williamson of Cape Coral, Fla., reacts after correctly spelling his word "harlequinade", during the semifinals of the Scripps National Spelling Bee at National Harbor in Oxon Hill, Md. The Scripps National Spelling Bee has a profound influence on the lives of many young people who participate. Year after year, they keep coming back. Williamson has taken on many roles in the two years since his memorable run to the finals at the Scripps National Spelling Bee. He's been a coach to younger spellers, an official at local bees, a scout who identifies promising young talent and, at times, a vocal critic of Scripps. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta, File)  (The Associated Press)

  • FILE - In this May 29, 2014 file photo, Paige Kimble, executive director of the Scripps National Spelling Bee, applauds during the Scripps National Spelling Bee at National Harbor in Oxon Hill, Md. The Scripps National Spelling Bee has a profound influence on the lives of many young people who participate. Year after year, they keep coming back. Dozens of former spellers will be scattered throughout the live audience when the bee begins on Wednesday, May 25, 2016. Others take on official roles in the competition. The most famous ex-spellers are Kimble and Jacques Bailly, the pronouncer and public face of the bee.  (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta, File)

    FILE - In this May 29, 2014 file photo, Paige Kimble, executive director of the Scripps National Spelling Bee, applauds during the Scripps National Spelling Bee at National Harbor in Oxon Hill, Md. The Scripps National Spelling Bee has a profound influence on the lives of many young people who participate. Year after year, they keep coming back. Dozens of former spellers will be scattered throughout the live audience when the bee begins on Wednesday, May 25, 2016. Others take on official roles in the competition. The most famous ex-spellers are Kimble and Jacques Bailly, the pronouncer and public face of the bee. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta, File)  (The Associated Press)

  • FILE In this May 28, 2009 file photo, Jacques Bailly pronounces a word for a speller at the 2009 National Spelling Bee in Washington. The Scripps National Spelling Bee has a profound influence on the lives of many young people who participate. Year after year, they keep coming back. Dozens of former spellers will be scattered throughout the live audience when the bee begins on Wednesday, May 25, 2016. Others take on official roles in the competition. The most famous ex-spellers are Bailly, the pronouncer and public face of the bee, and Paige Kimble, the bee’s executive director. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File)

    FILE In this May 28, 2009 file photo, Jacques Bailly pronounces a word for a speller at the 2009 National Spelling Bee in Washington. The Scripps National Spelling Bee has a profound influence on the lives of many young people who participate. Year after year, they keep coming back. Dozens of former spellers will be scattered throughout the live audience when the bee begins on Wednesday, May 25, 2016. Others take on official roles in the competition. The most famous ex-spellers are Bailly, the pronouncer and public face of the bee, and Paige Kimble, the bee’s executive director. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File)  (The Associated Press)

The Scripps National Spelling Bee has a profound influence on the lives of many young people who participate. Year after year, they keep coming back.

Dozens of former spellers will be scattered throughout the live audience when the bee begins Wednesday. Others take on official roles in the competition. The most famous ex-spellers are Jacques Bailly, the pronouncer and public face of the bee; and Paige Kimble, the bee's executive director. They won in back-to-back years: Bailly in 1980, Kimble in 1981.

Some former spellers credit the bee with giving them confidence and changing their career goals. Others just love the competition so much that they stay involved however they can — as officials, coaches or commentators.