Wednesday, June 2, 2010

"I REPEAT: THE JAMAICAN IS DOWN!" Every year during the Bee, my saddest moment comes when I howl the words "The Jamaican is Down!" at the TV screen. Mainly because, politically correct or not, there's a sense on the Spelling stage that the kids from Jamaica are the outsiders. I like the kids from Jamaica, I like their accents, I like the stiff, formal manners we've often seen from the Jamaican spellers. I like what's different. This year's lone Jamaican speller is Owayne Rodney, age 11. A Boy Scout, avid reader and cricket player, Owayne is, unlike the spelling stereotype, very well-rounded, a Renaissance man for the spelling ages. With 273 spellers taking the stage tomorrow, here's hoping he makes it through to be one of the 50 Spellers we enjoy on ESPN.

added: You can read about the Jamaican championship here, and his local paper has profiled Rodney as well, including a video feature below the fold:


  1. Cannot let this pass without a mention of 2003's third-place finisher from Jamaica, Trudy McLeary -- so polite, so poised, and so much of a staller that they imposed time limits the following year as a result.  Inspired a Facebook group.

  2. Christy in Philly1:10 PM

    I can just hear..."Thank you, Dr. Bailley. May I have the definition please, Dr. Bailley?"

  3. The Nerdy Hippie5:37 PM

    Owayne is an inspiring young man. i hope he does really well.

  4. BeeFan6:31 PM

    Trudy McLeary.  Sigh.   She took 6:45 to miss "aplustre" after using four minutes to correctly spell "fusuma".  Yes, I timed it from the videotape I had at the time.

    Nowhere near a record, though.   Jenelle Jindal took nine minutes to miss "garibaldi" back in 1996.  I think Rebecca Sealfon (who would go on to win in 1997) took nearly as long to miss "erythema" in the same round.  That's when they put in "informal time limits", which meant that Mary Brooks could start glaring at you after two minutes.

  5. SarahC6:48 PM

    Jenell Jindal also took 8 minutes (a record at the time) to miss "solecism" in 1995. Mary Brooks ALMOST rung the bell to ding her out when she repeatedly refused to begin spelling. I think she's the all-time stall queen.

  6. lauri7:34 PM

    perhaps this has been explained ad nauseum in an earlier post, but why are there canadian and jamaican contestants in the US national spelling bee?   i've loved watching the jamaicans and canadians over the years, but their presence has always seemed odd to me.

  7. Uncle Spike2:37 PM

    OMG...she drove me up the wall, if I can be so bold. You could hear Dr. Bailly's very un-hidden frustration with her about five minutes into her 8+ minute stalling. Yes, there's stalling for time, but that was just beyond.

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