Name: Jacob Williamson
Why did you start spelling? Started spelling because my mom heard about the SNSB.
Which Scripps bees did you participate in? 2012-14 regionals, 2014 Scripps
What was/were your losing word(s)? kabaragoya, which I look forward to replacing with some new screwups soonish.
How did you calm your nerves while participating? I was never really nervous because I had no expectations. Now I just call info Nihar style (Nihar Janga, 2016 National Spelling Bee co-champ famous for knowing the definitions of words beforehand) to keep confidence
How did you study? I studied like it’s 1999. Never heard of Hexco or WOW, problems of living in a podunk regional instead of like Dallas. Just had a 1986 print dictionary and some random stuff like Word Club. I started and finished that dictionary 3 times. LOL.
Did you enjoy your time at the Bee Week(s)? If so, what did you enjoy the most? I’ve been back to Bee Week several times since, so yeah, I’d say it’s the best thing ever. I hate that there really won’t be one this year, but I guess there’s at least a bee. Thing I enjoy most, besides spelling, is just meeting new friends and spending time with old ones. Bee Keeper helps with the former.
If any, what advice would you give to aspiring spellers? Don’t get SpellPundit Module 4 first, please (my favorite SpellPundit module is level 3, for anyone wondering). Way too many kids are doing this these days, focusing on the hardest, most obscure and least used words first, like they’re more interested in impressing people on chats than actually being any good, and they end up not being any good. Spellpundit has changed the word availability game massively, and you have to know how to navigate it the same way that we did, back when the availability corresponded better with the actual usefulness of knowing the words.
Also, don’t focus too much on things like Elo ratings. Way too many current spellers are making way too big a deal out of that. I invented that to be fun, not to become an obsession. Remember, Elo as a system doesn’t actually track skill, it relies on a ton of other things like frequency of appearances that are totally unrelated. Just focus on improving and the numbers will come in naturally.
And one last point of advice: always start with Words of the Champions before anything else, because in most regionals, it will just brutalize everyone around you and you’ll win by default just for knowing the list.