spelling bee misfits commissarBy Gary Nager

So, I’m not going to lie, I was having a really bad day on April 10 (my son Jake’s birthday) and it showed as I and my teammates attempted to defend the adult Spelling Bee title our Neighborhood News Pirates won last year.

In fact, in the first two rounds of this year’s fourth annual Wesley Chapel Noon Rotary Club-hosted Spelling Bee (benefitting the club’s selected charities) at Tampa Bay Golf & Country Club in San Antonio, I missed six of 21 words (teams are allowed to “bribe” their way back in during the first two rounds, for $10 per bribe), including “Sergeant” and “Boutonniere,” two words I definitely knew but choked when it came time to spell them for the event.  I even somehow argued with the judges — Pasco superintendent of schools Kurt Browning, assistant superintendent Ray Gadd and this year’s Pasco Teacher of the Year Beth Hess of Hudson High — that the correct spelling was “Sargeant.” Yeesh.

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But, this year’s team — the Medieval Misfits, co-sponsored by our publications and Smart Health, Inc. — wouldn’t let me choke away our title. My co-captain, the Black Knight Dane Parilo of Wells Fargo Financial, grabbed me by the shoulders, looked me in the eyes and said, “The third round is all that matters. You’ve got this!”

Even so, without the help of Dane, Lady Victoria (Vicki) Hamilton of Smart Health and especially, Medieval Doctor Karina Azank, M.D., who helped make sure we correctly spelled three medical words in that crucial final round (when no more bribes are accepted), it came down to just two teams — our Misfits and the yellow-shirted squad from Pasco Hernando State College — for the title. I was surprised when the PHSC team misspelled the word “Commissar,” which I did spell correctly, so we somehow still ended up with the local bragging rights for another year. 

Congrats to my Wesley Chapel (Noon) Rotary Club for another amazing event & thanks to OurTownFla.com, which provided these great pictures! 

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