Sophia Hoffman was only 11 years old when she competed in last year’s Jackson-Clay County, Mo., spelling bee. She had spelled her way past all her competitors but one, seventh grader Kush Sharma.
The showdown between the two would be a fateful one, and not for the faint of heart. The two mental gladiators both spelled without error for 66 rounds, exhausting the approved word list. Two weeks (and 29 rounds!) later they locked horns again and when the dust settled, Sophia had finally found her match.
But that didn’t dissuade the young competitor, who already is known as one of the country’s top spellers. This year Sophia is back at it and competing at the national spelling be for the first time.
Today on the Scripps National Spelling Bee podcast, producer Dan Bloom speaks with Sophia about her amazing experience, incredible poise and the redemption she found this year.
After listening to the show, we’re sure you’ll be asking yourself the same thing we did: How could you not root for this girl to succeed in Washington?
Next time on the show, a man who conveys a deep love and mastery of the English language through the game of soccer: the one-and-only Ray Hudson. And to catch up on the entire series, make sure to subscribe to the podcast on iTunes.