Court reporters and broadcast and CART captioners are used to working behind-the-scenes, but last weekend, an unexpected spotlight shined on NCRA member Toni Christy, RPR, CRR, CBC, CCP, while she was captioning the March 22 NCAA March Madness basketball game between Wisconsin and Oregon.
During the post-game press conference, three Wisconsin players — Nigel Hayes, Frank Kaminsky, and Sam Dekker — were curious about the stenographer. “One of the folks in the interview room noticed how curious they appeared to be,” said Christy, “and asked if I would mind showing them how it worked.” Christy was focused on writing the press conference and was surprised when they came, as she put it, “running out full speed to check it out.”
The ESPN Men’s College Basketball Blog posted a story with a video about the encounter, and their fascination is clear. “They were inquisitive, excited to see how it worked, and it was refreshing to see that kind of excitement over what I do,” said Christy. “They loved it when they saw their name on my LCD screen, and they were ecstatic when Sam Dekker pushed the –LD and the word ‘would’ came up on the screen.” During the rest of the press conference, the players, Hayes in particular, began using words like cattywampus, onomatopoeia, and antidisestablishmentarianism to keep Christy on her toes.
The encounter won the hearts of basketball fans and went viral on social media, with more than a dozen media outlets and blogs picking up the story. On Twitter in particular, fans shared the story, with comments like “The best March Madness subplot, by far, is the Wisco obsession with stenographers” and “OK, now I’m fascinated by how stenography works. Thanks a lot, #Badgers,” and turned #cattywampus into a hashtag.
Christy said the best thing about the encounter was the surprise opportunity to share her profession with young people. “As a former athlete and the mom of two collegiate swimmers, I like when people get to see how articulate and intelligent and thought-provoking our young student-athletes can be,” she said, adding that she’s also involved in NCRA’s mentorship program. “I have been writing since 1988, and working at ASAP Sports has been so wonderful for me, because I get to write about what I know and love, and I get the opportunity to meet wonderful people like Nigel, Sam, and Frank along the way.”
Christy said that Hayes came up to her one last time just before the Wisconsin team left and gave her a hug. “I thanked him for shining a light on our profession, something not many people know or understand,” Christy said.
Here is a list of the media outlets that covered the story:
- Swimming World
- The Courier-Post (N.J.)
- The Bleacher Report
- Yahoo Sports
- Channel3000.com (Wis.)
- SB Nation
- New York Post
- UTV44 (Mobile, Ala.)
- USA Today
- Fox 5 – KVVU (Las Vegas, Nev.)
- Chicago Sun-Times