1964. It's the distant milepost in our long, tormented march through the sports landscape, the last year Cleveland crowned a major pro champion.
But you know that. Everyone knows that. It's inescapable, drummed into our psyche with two-word phraseology so simple even the youngest fan comprehends the pain.
I'm talking about a different drought, though. Northeast Ohio hadn't claimed a Scripps National Spelling Bee title in 46 years either, not since William Kerek, representing the Akron Beacon Journal, spelled sycophant to win that year. Previously, the region had enjoyed a good bit of success, including winners in 1957 and three straight from 1948-50 (at roughly the same time the Browns were racking up championships). Go back farther and Dean Lucas, of Akron, took the third-ever bee in 1927, and representatives from the Beacon Journal won again in 1933 and 1935.
So while another kid from Akron had us all tilling the fragile dust bowl of our competitive self-worth with his shameless "decision," Anamika Veeramani, a graduated eighth-grader at Incarnate Word Academy, was a few sprinkles of rain. Motivated by her fifth-place finish in 2009 (after missing the German word fackeltanz), Veeramani became the 2010 Scripps National Spelling Bee champ by correctly spelling stromuhr, another German word. It's a lesson in determination and a reason we checked in with the 14-year-old on her summer vacation (see "Queen of the Bee," page 92).
This month's issue hosts a few other winners as well, including three whose stock rose during the ugly LBJ Tour de Ego (page 18) and four tradition-rich high school football programs that are playing for charity (page 18), not using it as a cover.
And we have a few winners around here. The Press Club of Cleveland's Excellence in Journalism Awards honored several staffers and contributors. First place nods went to Andy Netzel (magazine arts features, "Critical Sinking" and technology writing, "The Big Disconnect"); Netzel and Kim Schneider (magazine consumer features, "Rating the Suburbs"); Erick Trickey (politics/government writing, "Life of the Party" and blogs, Cleveland Magazine politics); and art director Jennifer Kessen (spread design, "Secret Identity"). Picking up second place awards were Schneider (magazine departments, Arts & Entertainment); Jim Vickers (headline writing); Dave "Coondog" O'Karma (single essay, "Guitar Zero"); Jacqueline Marino (medical/health writing, "White Coats"); photographer Barney Taxel (general photo multiple images, "Cheap Eats"); and photographer Eric Mull (who took several awards for our publications).