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Regional spelling bee champ heads to nationals

By Carolina Astrain
May 23, 2014 at 12:23 a.m.

Muriel Cotman, 13, of Cuero, spends time at First Presbyterian Church in Cuero, where her father is a preacher.  Cotman is traveling to Washington, D.C., to compete in the Scripps National Spelling Bee. She studies words for two hours a day from her dictionary or online. "The spelling bee will be fun, but I'm also looking forward to hanging with the other spellers and the non-spelling bee parts. But I'll spell, too," she said.


To see Muriel Cotman, the regional spelling bee champion, compete in the Scripps National Spelling Bee, tune into ESPN.

• Preliminaries will be streaming live 7 a.m. to 3:45 p.m. Wednesday on ESPN3.

• Semifinals will be broadcast live 9 a.m. to noon Thursday on ESPN2.

• Championship finals will be broadcast live 7 to 9 p.m. Thursday on ESPN.

Source: National Scripps Spelling Bee

Prizes for national champion

The champion of the 2014 Scripps National Spelling Bee will be awarded the following:

•  From Scripps: A $30,000 cash prize and the Scripps National Spelling Bee engraved trophy

• From Merriam-Webster: A $2,500 U.S. savings bond and a complete reference library

• From Encyclopaedia Britannica: $1,200 of reference works including the Britannica Global Edition, 1768 Encyclopaedia Britannica Replica Set Deluxe Edition and three-year membership to Britannica Online

• Premium and Britannica World Atlas

• From Scripps: Scripps National Spelling Bee engraved plaques

• From Microsoft: a one-year subscription to Microsoft Office 365 Home including Word, Excel, PowerPoint plus 20GB OneDrive online storage to each student who attends the school

• A medal from the Scripps National Spelling Bee and a cash prize

Source: National Scripps Spelling Bee Competition

What Muriel Cotman won as regional winner:

• A one week, all-expense paid trip sponsored by the Victoria Advocate to compete in the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C.

• $1,000 college-savings plan sponsored by Invista, H-E-B, Formosa Plastics, Port Lavaca Auto Group and Pioneer Natural Resources.

• Webster's Third New International Dictionary, donated by Merrian-Webster.

• Samuel Louis Sugarman award certificate for a 2014 United States Mint Proof Set, donated by Jay Sugarman in honor of his father.

• A one-year subscription to Encyclopedia Britannica online premium, donated by Encyclopedia Britannica.

Muriel Cotman, a home-schooled student from Cuero, will join 280 other spellers at the Scripps National Spelling Bee Competition.

"I'm excited, happy, a little nervous, but I think that's natural," Muriel, 13, said.

The competition begins Tuesday with a preliminary computer test on vocabulary, and the first spelling rounds start Wednesday.

Muriel, who said she's been studying the dictionary two hours each day, said she uses prayer to relieve her stress.

Her father, the Rev. Bill Cotman, preaches at First Presbyterian Church in Cuero.

"We just hope she has a good time and gets to meet some of the other spellers," said her mother, Tessa Cotman. "I know she's going to try her best, and we're very grateful for the opportunity."

The Victoria Advocate sponsored the trip expenses for the national competition for Muriel and one adult guardian.

She and her husband will both be accompanying their daughter, Tessa Cotman said.

For fun, Muriel said she likes to play the piano, walk her dogs, Missy and Tulip, and watch Disney movies.

Muriel is also active in Girl Scout Troop 9422 as a cadet.

Her favorite Disney princess is Belle of "Beauty and the Beast."

"I relate to her the most because I read a lot," Muriel said. "My favorite books right now are the 'Narnia' and 'Wizard of Oz' series."

Of the words on her study list, "Dostoyevskian," has been one of the more interesting ones to spell, Muriel said.

Her winning word at the regional spelling bee was "distinguished."

The family left for Austin on Friday afternoon and plans to fly to the capital Saturday, her mother said. On Sunday, the spelling bee competitors will attend an orientation, and a barbecue is planned for Monday.

While in Washington, D.C., Cotman said they hope to visit the Smithsonian and the Washington National Cathedral.

If she gets nervous, Muriel said, she plans to keep a prayer handy.

"Praying calms my nerves," Muriel said. "I just tell myself to do the best, and that's all I can do."



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