English 9

Corey Gammel: Old Speller

Corey Gammel stared nervously into the television cameras, the1 crowd became eerily silent, feeling the immense pressure of the moment. Gammel took a deep breath, looked up at the ceiling, and then stared down at his shoes. But when he heard the judge utter the word diphtheria, Gammel gave a distinct smile. [2] The crowd went wild for him.

Growing up, in Iowa in the 1980s3 Gammel had an innate desire to learn to spell before he even learned how to write. He learned the alphabet within a month of uttering his first sentence, and soon after, asked his parents to quiz him on simple words from the newspaper. They were skeptical of their son’s ardorous desire to spell, but Corey just continued to ask for help. Despite this,4 his parents took an interest when they considered the request and ceded,5 and helped him become one of the best spellers in the country.

Edward Gammel, Corey’s father, became his son’s main instructor in: overall6 spelling and spelling bee strategies. Selma Gammel, Corey’s mother, also aided her son in his pursuit to be the best, but she somehow knew that there was something missing from her son’s training.7

Selma began posting notecards with particularly difficult words everywhere that her son might see them. She put them above his bed, in her husband’s car, and even in the mens8 room of Corey’s school and favorite restaurants. The method proved to be extremely effective9. Gammel says that this method led him more quickly to memorization, recognition and to have a quick recall10However,11 within a few months, Gammel felt ready for the National Championships.

Gammel breezed through the regional and state competitions. [12] The National Competition, of course, featured hundreds of spelling prodigies, each with their own unique training regimens. But round by round, Gammel never missed a beat. And when it came time for the final round, his winning word: diphtheria13 – was one he was quite prepared for.14 [15]