Siblings share love of spelling as leaders of Bee Week

The siblings credit their mom for supporting their spelling journeys that began back in Central California when they were kids.
 Corrie and Paul Loeffler
Posted at 1:18 PM, May 29, 2024

For nearly two decades, Corrie and Paul Loeffler have been staples at Bee Week. Paul is the Bee's TV analyst, a job he's been doing since 2006, and Corrie is the executive director of the Scripps National Spelling Bee.

As the executive director, Corrie works on the Bee year-round. Outside of Bee Week, Paul is a sports announcer and also hosts a syndicated radio show that spotlights World War II veterans.

But the brother-and-sister pair are also former spellers. "I was in it once," Paul said, "And she was way better on the spelling than I was because she was in it three times and came a lot closer to winning it." For Corrie, this is her 30th year being at the national finals in one capacity or another.

The siblings credit their mom for supporting their spelling journeys that began back in Central California when they were kids.

Paul said he recalls their mom bribing him with baseball cards to study. "If I studied for an hour, I got a pack of baseball cards," he said. "My mom always saw the big picture. She was so patient with us. She didn't pressure us. But she encouraged us, she encouraged us to dream big," he said.

Corrie remarked that she doesn't remember being bribed to study, but her older brother said she was always the more focused speller.

Spelling Dev Shah from Largo, Florida, spells his winning word during the Scripps National Spelling Bee in 2023.

Scripps Spelling Bee

Behind the scenes at the Scripps National Spelling Bee

Stephanie Liebergen
4:45 PM, May 27, 2024

But they both acknowledged that the words have gotten harder since their time under the lights. Corrie said, "we have had to go to more darker depths of the dictionary, you know, to find the words that we can use to get to a champion — these kids are just so prepared."

In 2019, the Spelling Bee ended after midnight with eight co-champions. In 2022, the final two kids faced off in the first-ever spell-off to determine the winner.

So for these experienced Bee Week participants, what's their favorite part of the week? For Corrie, it doesn't come until the very end after a winner has been crowned, when the kids get to let loose in the Bee Week Bash. Every year, the kids all sing "We are the Champions," and she said that moment always brings a tear to her eye.

For Paul, his favorite part of the week is getting to know all the spellers. "I love the time you spend off camera with them and their parents, and you see who they really are. And you see how much each one of these families have invested in their children, and that's what fires me up," he said.

Both Paul and Corrie are busy bees throughout the week, but they try to make time to catch up with each other, and still keep some of that sibling rivalry alive.

"She would beat me if we had a competition now," Paul said.