Trying to wrangle 231 spellers into the right place at the right time might sound like a lot to handle.
For Abi Haggerty, though, it's second nature.
"I'm a ringleader for them," she said. "I kind of consider myself to be the 'Bee Mom.'"
Haggerty's helping hand at the Scripps National Spelling Bee began 13 years ago. The kids at Bee Week keep her coming back each time.
"Yes, I get them to their interviews. Yes, I help them get their makeup done with the makeup people and the hair people," she said. "We get to have a lot of fun, but my main role for that day is to be their liaison."
It's a role to which she brings plenty of joy.
"I want to be the person that smiles the most from Scripps and is present to help them do whatever they need to do," Haggerty said. "So, if they need a moment to breathe, I stand there with them and help them breathe, and if they want to laugh and just be a 13- or 14-year-old kid, I'm more than happy to facilitate that as well."
Haggerty is part of a large group of people making sure this year's Spelling Bee goes off without a hitch.
"I think about how meaningful Bee Week was for me as a kid, and we're trying to add more and more of that meaning to the work that we do at Bee Week," said Corrie Loeffler, the Spelling Bee's new executive director.
Loeffler is herself a former speller at the competition.
"The Spelling Bee is such a pure competition. It's just the kids versus the dictionary," Loeffler said. "It's so easy to relate to and so easy to play along. It makes it a lot of fun to be there. It makes it a lot of fun to watch."
For viewers watching at home, you never know what might happen next.
"We can definitely expect some surprises along the way," Loeffler said.
Haggerty said that comes with the territory, and it is one she plans to help all the spellers navigate together.
"At the end of the day, they're amazing kids, and so what I want to do is be there for them," Haggerty said, "and I want to make sure that they know that this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity."
You can watch a special broadcast of the Scripps National Spelling Bee semifinals on Wednesday, May 31 at 8 p.m. ET, on ION and Bounce, as well as streaming on the Bee's website.
Tune into those same channels for the live finals of the Scripps National Spelling Bee on Thursday, June 1, at 8 p.m. ET.
Editor's Note: Scripps News is a subsidiary of the E.W. Scripps Company, which also runs the Bee on a not-for-profit basis.
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