PROSPER — Naysa Modi, a student of Reynolds Middle School in Prosper, made her fourth appearance at the National Spelling Bee, taking second at the competition after being edged out by another Texas native, Karthik Nemmani, by one word, “Bewusstseinslage.” Naysa finished respectably in second place on Thursday, May 31.
This was Modi’s fourth year at the national competition, it was also her fourth year of competing in spelling bees, an impressive feat.
“My friend from another school won her school’s spelling bee, and it kind of sparked my interest in it,” Modi said as she described where her passion for the competition was formed.
To get to this level of competition, hours upon hours of work must be poured into studying and preparing oneself for any word at any given time.
“There was hours of hard work,” Modi’s father said, “When we started, we started slow and with the basics. But Naysa’s always been interested in literature and words and was already interested in extra curricular reading. … You then have to study for various levels of difficulties, you get one level of difficulty done comfortably then you move on to the next one … in terms of time, during the school year she would do about three hours of studying on a school day, and from anywhere to six or seven hours on the weekends. The last three months before competition it went up to five hours on a school day and around nine hours on a weekend.”
While this incredible hard work certainly helped, Modi also had her past experience to guide her.
“With it being my fourth time at Nationals, I kind of knew already what things were important, and what things I should really focus on,” Modi said. “ It really gives me the chance to sort out whats trivial and whats not, giving me more time to study and get ready for the actual competition, and not have to worry about all the extras.”
“The experience also allowed us to know what to expect round by round,” Modi’s father added, “knowing the number of words per round, what difficulty they might be at, and just what questions might be asked per round.”
Despite the possible intimidation some spellers might experience at the competition, being on that stage at that level can be jarring. But not to Modi, who uses that nervous energy to her advantage.
“I’ve always been a stage person, even when I was young,” Modi said, “I’ve always been interested stand-up comedy, dancing, singing, just performing in general. So, I really feel like the stage is kind of a second home, so it’s exhilarating, but there’s also that pressure there. All you can see are big cameras, small cameras, and everyone’s looking up at you. So there’s definitely that pressure, but if you close your eyes and just imagine you’re home, then it’s nothing.”
Modi also was fully aware of the community backing she had going into this competition, with her school’s faculty and her peers sending her plenty of support.
“I love the feeling from knowing that I have people with me, that are supporting me through this,” Modi said, “I guess it just gave me an extra push of confidence.”
Modi has plans for making a fifth appearance in Nationals, but this time, she won’t be walking away with second place honors.
“I’m definitely coming back,” Modi said, “I’m going to work harder, and I’m going to win.”