ESPN’s coverage of the 2013 Scripps National Spelling Bee continues with live coverage of the Championship Finals on ESPN and WatchESPN at 8 p.m ET.
While regular ESPN viewers will recognize SportsCenter anchor Sage Steele and reporter Samantha Ponder — who are hosting and reporting at the Scripps National Spelling Bee, respectively — many will be at a loss trying to recognize some of the competition’s central figures on- and off-camera.
Front Row provides a quick peek at the Scripps National Spelling Bee’s key staffers and their association with the competition.
Pronouncer Dr. Jacques A. Bailly, generally referred to as the most-interesting person in the Scripps National Spelling Bee. Dr. Bailly is the 1980 National Spelling Bee champion. He is currently an associate professor of classics at the University of Vermont and this is his 11th year as the pronouncer.
Associate pronouncer Dr. Brian M. Sietsema is an ordained priest of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America and serves a parish in Lansing, Mich. After receiving a doctorate in linguistics in 1989, he served as the pronunciation editor for Merriam-Webster from 1990 to 1998.
Janice S. Liebenberg (sponsorship and operations coordinator with The E.W. Scripps Company), Bridget Nealis (banker with Fifth Third Bank in Greenburg, Ind.), and Malorie Nealis (marketing and nutrition student at The Ohio State University) receive and comfort the eliminated spellers.
The “Kiss and Cry” couch offers the champion spellers their first port of call to gather their thoughts and reflect on the competition immediately following a misspelled word.
Hannah Worster contributed to this post.