DOYLESTOWN – Yeagers are spellings.
Daddy Derek Yeager was a champion in the spelling contest, his eldest son Matthew made it to the regional spelling contest and now Andrew, 13, the middle child of the family, will compete in the Scripps National Spelling Bee on Saturday.
By the fifth year of his first spelling contest, the only person who could beat him was his older brother.
Things have changed now.
“He’s more advanced already than we’ve ever been,” Derek said proudly.
This does not go unnoticed by Andrew.
“It makes me feel more powerful than him,” he said with a wry smile and a look back at dad.
But make no mistake about it; Andrew does not express a sense of family obligation or to his father or brother. No, he’s here to win, and “I’m pretty good at it,” he said.
Doylestown Yeagers gear up for spelling challenge
Andrew, who just finished seventh grade at Chippewa Middle School and lives with his father, mother, Kelly Yeager, and two brothers in Doylestown, won the Akron Regional Spelling Bee on March 20 to qualify for the national bee where he will face 209. other competitors from across the country.
The eighth grade student studied extensively for the competition. He and his father spend about an hour a day using a spelling app called Word Club to review any 4,000 words that might be asked of him on the bee’s first turn. In addition to the app, his father also asks Andrew what words come to mind.
The Yeagers don’t rely on rote memorization, but instead develop dozens of “tricks” for harsh words.
For example, the trick to the word “camembert,” the creamy French cheese, is “member of the cat” or “the word member in the word cat,” explained Andrew.
The other strategy Andrew uses to deduce difficult spellings is the original language.
For example, for words of Latin origin, the sounds “F” are always spelled with “F”, but for words of Greek origin, it is always “Ph”.
The spelling must also be prepared to tackle unfamiliar languages, said Derek Yeager, recalling the word “kalimba”, an African instrument played by plucking small metal bars. When Andrew learned that the word came from the African Bantu language family during a study session, he knew immediately that the word would begin with “K” rather than “C”.
“He can streamline his way through a lot of things,” Derek said.
Andrew said the language he finds most difficult is not from a remote corner of the world. It’s more French. With its silent “h” s, abundant accents, and vowel clusters, it’s easy to slip up.
“There are a lot of weird rules,” Andrew said.
Spelling Bee scripts changes for 2021
Another potential challenge is the new bee vocabulary section which was introduced after the 2019 national finals produced eight unprecedented winners.
After having spelled one of the 4000 words from the list distributed to candidates by Scripps, the spellings will have to choose the correct definition of another of these 4000 words out of four choices.
“I think I’ll be able to get past the first spelling,” Andrew said. “I know quite a few definitions, but I’m not the best of them at all.”
Definitions are what got him out of the bee in 2020 and even ended his Wayne County bee run this year, despite placing himself high enough to pass into the bee. regional.
“(On) the vocabulary, I’ll be honest, there will probably be an element of luck,” his father said. “I mean, he’s seen them all, but there’s a pretty wide variety on what’s easy and what’s not.”
Another upcoming change is that it will be online for all rounds until the finals where a dozen competitors will advance to the finals in person in Orlando.
Beyond spelling, Andrew plays first base / outfield and occasionally throws for the Chippewa Middle School baseball team, enjoys playing video games like Pokemon, and watching videos on YouTube. At school, he excels in math.
For this weekend, however, words will be Andrew’s only concern.
“I’m a little excited, but I’m also a little nervous at the same time,” he said.
How to track the bee
The 2021 Scripps National Spelling Bee will be a virtual event this year, until the in-person finals take place at the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida.
The preliminaries will run from 10 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Saturday and will air on ESPN3. The quarter-finals will take place on June 15 from noon to 6 p.m., also on ESPN3. The semi-finals will be held from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. on June 27, broadcast on ESPN2. The finals will be held July 8 from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. on ESPN2.
Scripps’ bee staff are active on Twitter throughout the event and tweet every word spelled out on each turn, using a hashtag with the spelling number. The Akron Beacon Journal’s spelling, Andrew Yeager, will be # speller70. To see the tweets, check out @scrippsbee on Twitter. Online, visit twitter.com/scrippsbee.
Yeager will compete at 12:04 p.m. Saturday.
Check out the stories on beaconjournal.com after the local spelling competition.