HEBRON, Ky. – Olivia Kaiser, a seventh-grader at Conner Middle School, says she would be surprised to win the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C. But her parents wouldn't be.
They say they used to be surprised by Olivia's achievements, but not anymore.
"I know she came home and surprised us one time when she said the alphabet backwards," dad Ryan says.
"And she was 4," mom Laurie says.
That was even before Olivia, now 13, became a classically trained pianist and vocalist.
And a champion speller.
"Yeah. So I guess we shouldn't be surprised now," dad says.
Olivia has taken this challenge seriously, studying for hours and hours each week from a dictionary and online.
Nevertheless, it would be unusual for a first-time competitor – even Olivia - to win the National Bee out of 281 of the country's best spellers.
She wasn't sure she could win the Kentucky-Indiana Regional Bee in February.
“I kept saying, ‘I've got to leave, I can't do this,” she said. “I didn't think I was going to get very far because studying the words was really hard."
But Olivia beat out 58 others. And now that's she got one win under her belt, who knows?
"I'd be really excited and surprised because this is my first year making it to the nationals, so it would be really important," she says.
"The skies the limit with her, I think," says her mom. "She always does really well at everything and I'm just so proud of her. And she is capable of doing anything."
The spell-off begins Wednesday. Here's how to watch:
> Preliminaries: Wednesday, 8 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. EDT. (Streaming live on ESPN3).
> Semifinals: Thursday, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. EDT. (Live on ESPN2; Streaming live on ESPN3).
> Championship Finals: Thursday, 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. EDT. (Live on ESPN; Streaming live on ESPN3).
9 On Your Side anchor Tanya O'Rourke is at the Scripps National Spelling Bee. She will report live on Olivia's progress as well as our champion speller from Cincinnati, Joseph Delamerced. Follow her on Twitter @TanyaORourke