Pick up some PDCs when you help with contest grading

NCRA’s Contests Committee is seeking volunteers to help with on-site grading for the National Speed and Realtime contests being held during the Association’s 2019 Convention & Expo happening Aug. 15-18 at the Hyatt Regency Denver in Denver, Colo.

Graders are needed beginning the afternoon of Aug. 14 through Aug. 16. Volunteers who sign up to help grade can earn 0.25 Professional Development Credits (PDCs) for every two hours they assist, and they will be able to brag about their roles in participating in the making of Association history.

“Both of these contests are steeped in NCRA’s tradition and are considered the Olympics of the court reporting and captioning professions,” said Joan McQuinn, RPR, CRMS, chair of the Contests Committee, and an official court reporter from Rockford, Ill.

“Both competitions generate huge excitement among the contestants, as well as those who come to watch these professionals who have worked hard practicing and honing their skills in hopes of earning the right to be called the fastest and most accurate for the year among their peers. Helping grade is not only fun, but it gives those who volunteer the opportunity to make new friends and connections and to be part of the competitions without having to compete,” McQuinn added.

This year marks the 80th annual National Speed Contest which will draw more than two dozen of the fastest stenographic court reporters and captioners to compete on Aug. 14 for bragging rights. Contestants are tested on their ability to accurately transcribe dialogue that increases in speed and difficulty throughout each round. The first round begins at 220 words-per-minute while the final round ends at 280 words-per-minute. Similar to a traditional court reporter setting, contestants are allocated time to convert their stenography into a final transcript before scoring begins. Scoring is based on accuracy of their transcriptions given the increasing difficulty of dialogue speed.

On Aug. 15, many of the same contestants will gather to compete in the 20th annual National Realtime Contest where they will be judged on their ability to transcribe dialogue in real time. Much like a closed-caption setting, all activity happens live, meaning participants are unable to edit their transcript once the audio session is complete. This fast and furious competition is scored based on sheer translation speed and accuracy.

Winners of the contests and top scorers in each leg of the competitions are announced at a special awards luncheon where they are recognized as champions before their peers.

For more information or to sign up to serve as a volunteer grader and earn 0.25 PDCs per two hours of time, please contact NCRA Director of Communications & Public Relations Annemarie Roketenetz at aroketenetz@ncra.org.

Kislingbury and Bryant step in the winners’ circle again

2018 Speed and Realtime contestants

Sherry Bryant, RMR, CRR, and Mark Kislingbury, RDR, CRC, repeated wins for the national NCRA Speed Contest and Realtime Contest, respectively.

Bryant, who previously won in 2012, placed first in the Literary leg, with 5 errors; second in the Legal Opinion, with 12; and second in the Testimony, with 62. Her combined overall score was 97.94 percent. Bryant lives in Harrisburg, Pa. Patricia Nilsen, RMR, CRR, CRC, CRI, of Nashville, Tenn., came in second place overall, and Karen Tyler, RDR, CRR, CRC, of Shreveport, La., placed third.

Kislingbury, who lives in Houston, Texas, earned first place overall in the Realtime Contest. It is his fifth Realtime Contest win. This win ties the record for most wins in the NCRA Realtime Contest with current Contests Committee co-chair Jo Ann Bryce, RMR, CRR, of Castro Valley, Calif. Kislingbury’s overall score was 99.245 percent.

Doug Zweizig, RDR, CRR, of Baltimore, Md., took second place overall with a score of 98.933 percent. In addition to her Speed championship, Bryant earned third place overall in the Realtime Contest. Kislingbury, Zweizig, and past champion Dee Boenau, RDR, CRR, CRC, of Sarasota, Fla., tied for first in the Literary leg.

Kislingbury was interviewed by a local news station following the Realtime Contest. Realtime contestants Erminia Uviedo, RDR, CRR, CRC, and Donna Karoscik, RDR, CRR, CRC, were also interviewed by a morning TV show in New Orleans.

The Speed Contest consists of three legs: literary at 220 wpm, legal opinion at 230 wpm, and testimony at 280 wpm. Contestants have a total of 90 minutes per leg for transcription. The Realtime Contest consists of two legs: literary at 200 wpm and testimony at 225 wpm. Contestants must turn in an ASCII file immediately following the end of dictation. In both contests, contestants must receive 95 percent accuracy to qualify; accuracy also determines the winners.

2018 Speed Contest Results


Place   Percentage
1 Sherry Bryant, RMR, CRR 97.94%
2 Patricia Nilsen, RMR, CRR, CRC, CRI 97.18%
3 Karen Tyler, RDR, CRR, CRC 97.10%



Place   Errors Percentage
1 Sherry Bryant 5 99.545%
2 Traci Mertens, RDR, CRR, CRC 6 99.455%
3 Dee Boenau, RDR, CRR, CRC 12 98.909%
4 Julianne LaBadia, RDR, CRR, CRC 14 98.727%
5 Patricia Nilsen 17 98.455%
6 John Wissenbach, RDR, CRR, CRC 20 98.182%
7 Kathy Cortopassi, RMR, CRR, CRC 24 97.818%
8 Karen Tyler 26 97.636%
9 Allison Hall, RMR, CRR 31 97.182%
10 Donna Urlaub, RMR, CRR 34 96.909%
11 Ronald Cook, RDR, CRR, CRC 36 96.727%
11 Kathryn Thomas, RDR, CRR, CRC 36 96.727%
12 Melanie Humphrey-Sonntag, RDR, CRR, CRC 39 96.455%
13 Chase Frazier, RMR, CRR, CRC 46 95.818%
13 Rich Germosen, RMR, CRR 46 95.818%
14 Sabrina Lewis, RDR, CRR 53 95.182%
15 Darlene Fuller, RMR, CRR 54 95.091%
15 Sheri Smargon, RDR, CRR, CRC 54 95.091%



Place   Errors Percentage
1 Julianne LaBadia 12 98.957%
2 Sherry Bryant 14 98.783%
3 John Wissenbach 18 98.435%
4 Karen Tyler 22 98.087%
4 Doug Zweizig, RDR, CRR 22 98.087%
5 Patricia Nilsen 28 97.565%
6 Dee Boenau 30 97.391%
7 Traci Mertens 35 96.957%
8 Donna Urlaub 43 96.261%
9 Kathy Cortopassi 55 95.217%



Place   Errors Percentage
1 Karen Tyler 62 95.571%
2 Sherry Bryant 63 95.500%
2 Patricia Nilsen 63 95.500%
3 Rich Germosen 66 95.286%

* Contest results are preliminary.

Weigl and Boenau earn back-to-back wins

Jeff Weigl repeats with 2017 Speed Contest win

Jeff Weigl repeats with 2017 Speed Contest win

Jeffrey Weigl, RMR, CRR, CRC, from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, repeated as the 2017 Speed Contest champion. Weigl won with an overall score of 97.268%. John Wissenbach, RDR, CRR, CRC, of San Francisco, Calif., earned second place overall with a final score of 96.382%. Weigl and Wissenbach were the only two contestants to qualify in all three legs of the contest. Dee Boenau, RDR, CRR, CRC, of Sarasota, Fla., earned the blue ribbon for the Literary leg of the Speed Contest while Weigl earned the top spot in both the Legal Opinion and Testimony legs.

Dee Boenau earns third trophy with 2017 Realtime Contest win

Dee Boenau earns third trophy with 2017 Realtime Contest win

Boenau also repeated her Realtime Contest win from 2016. Boenau previously won the contest in 2010 and 2016, bringing her total Realtime Championships to three. Weigl placed second overall in the Realtime Contest with an overall score of 98.117%. Doug Zweizig, RDR, CRR, took third with a score of 97.875%. A four-way tie for the testimony leg of the Realtime – with 12 errors each – had Boneau; Zweizig; Mark Kislingbury, FAPR, RDR, CRR; and Jennifer Schuck, FAPR, RDR, CRR, CRC, earning blue medals for their efforts.

The Speed Contest consists of three legs: literary at 220 wpm, legal opinion at 230 wpm, and testimony at 280 wpm. Contestants have a total of 90 minutes per leg for transcription. The Realtime Contest consists of two legs: literary at 200 wpm and testimony at 225 wpm. Contestants turned in an RTF or ASCII file immediately following the end of dictation. In both contests, contestants must receive 95 percent accuracy to qualify; accuracy also determines the winners. The contests were held at the beginning of the NCRA Convention & Expo, Aug. 10-13 in Las Vegas, Nev.

View the Speed Contest results.

View the Realtime Contest results.

Read all the news from the 2017 NCRA Convention & Expo.

2017 Speed Contest results


Place   Errors Percentage
1 Jeffrey Weigl, RMR, CRR, CRC 77 97.268%
2 John Wissenbach, RDR, CRR, CRC 133 96.382%



Place   Errors Percentage
1 Dee Boenau, FAPR, RDR, CRR, CRC 7 99.350%
2 Doug Zweizig, RDR, CRR 9 99.164%
3 Chase Frazier, RMR, CRR, CRC 13 98.792%
4 Jeffrey Weigl 14 98.700%
5 Tricia Rosate, RDR, CRR 15 98.607%
6 Karen Tyler, RDR, CRR, CRC 18 98.239%
6 John Wissenbach 18 98.239%
7 Traci Mertens, RDR, CRR, CRC 20 98.143%
8 Donna Urlaub, RMR, CRR 21 98.050%
9 Anthony Trujillo, RMR, CRR 22 97.957%
10 Andrea Couch, RDR, CRR, CRC 23 97.864%
10 Melanie Humphrey-Sonntag, FAPR, RDR, CRR, CRC 23 97.864%
11 Tami Frazier, RMR, CRR 28 97.400%
12 Ronald Cook, FAPR, RDR, CRR, CRC 36 96.657%
13 Patricia Nilsen, RMR, CRR, CRC, CRI 37 96.565%
14 Rich Germosen, RMR, CRR 39 96.379%
15 Kathryn Thomas, RDR, CRR, CRC 43 96.007%
16 Bernice Radavich, RDR, CRR, CRC, CPE 48 95.543%
17 Joshua Edwards, RDR, CRR 49 95.450%
18 Karyn Menck, RDR, CRR, CRC 51 95.256%
19 Patrick Mahon, RMR, CRR 52 95.172%
19 G. Allen Sonntag, FAPR, RDR, CRR 52 95.172%



Place   Errors Percentage
1 Jeffrey Weigl 41 96.400%
2 Karen Tyler 43 96.225%
3 John Wissenbach 52 95.435%




Place   Errors Percentage
1 Jeffrey Weigl 32 97.704%
2 John Wissenbach 63 95.471%

* Contest results are preliminary.

Add speed and accuracy to the magic of your convention experience

Contestants for the 2014 Realtime Contest before the contest begins. Many look congenial. They sit in rows with their laptops and steno machines in front of them. In the back are about a dozen observers.

Whether you are a speed and accuracy junkie or just someone who loves to watch your peers perform at their highest possible levels, make plans to compete in or attend the 2017 National Speed and Realtime Contests being held at the NCRA Convention & Expo happening in Las Vegas, Nev.

Registration for both contests is at the halfway mark, and the deadline is drawing near. The Speed Contest is set to take place on Wednesday, Aug. 9, with the Realtime Contest happening on Thursday, Aug. 10. Both events will take place at the NCRA Convention & Expo host hotel Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino.

NCRA’s National Speed Contest first debuted at the 1909 convention in Lake George, N.Y., pitting Pitman and Gregg pen writers against one another. Today’s contestants continue to fight for top speeds and accuracy rates but on shorthand machines. Contestants face three, five-minute tests of live dictation that includes literary at 220 wpm, legal opinion at 230 wpm, and testimony at 280 wpm. Once done, contestants have 90 minutes to transcribe what they wrote. The transcripts are then graded for accuracy and combined with speed times to determine who makes it to the winner’s circle.

With the advent of realtime software, NCRA introduced the National Realtime Contest in 1999 to showcase members’ instantaneous speech-to-text skills. Just as challenging as the Speed Contest, contestants face two five-minute dictations: one of straight matter at 200 wpm and another of two-voice dictation at 225 wpm. Tests are submitted for grading immediately upon completion of the contests, and contestants must qualify with an accuracy rate of 95 percent or better to have a shot at the top spots.

Both contests offer challenging and difficult tests of skill and endurance. And each year, both veterans and first-timers show up to participate, as do those who just want to observe and be inspired. The JCR Weekly reached out to two members, a veteran participant and an observer, to find out more about what draws court reporters and captioners to the contests.

According to Ed Varallo, FAPR, RMR, CRR, a freelance reporter from Boston, Mass., competing is a way for him to challenge himself. Varallo won the speed contest in 1974, in 1975 (where he scored a perfect score in the 280 wpm testimony leg), and in 1976, and then returned to win again in 1986, in 1996, and in 2006 after having retired from competing for 10 years.

“The men and women who put their skills on the line and enter the National Speed Contest or Realtime Contest are setting an example for all of us. They’re showing us what the most skillful practitioners of our art can do. And I find that inspiring. Makes me want to be the best reporter I can be,” Varallo said.

“If you don’t enter the contest, come watch it. You’ll be inspired. It’s exciting to watch fingers fly as the words pour forth at astronomical speeds! I’ve entered state and national contests and won six national contests. What motivates me is always the same thing: I want to challenge myself the way these other reporters are challenging themselves. Interestingly, when you compete, you’re competing with yourself. It doesn’t feel like you’re competing with the other contestants in the room,” he said.

“Sure, each of us is scored and ranked against all other contestants, but for me, I was happy when I performed well. If I won, well, that’s great, and I’d like to win again. But if I performed well, got a good score, and somebody beat me, I might be disappointed — but I wouldn’t feel defeated because I knew I gave it my best shot. When you compete in a high-speed contest, and transcribe your paper, and especially if you’re happy with your performance, it’s exhilarating! It makes you want to do it again! And, of course, it keeps your writing skills in tip-top shape so that you can be the best reporter you’re capable of, every day. And that’s what a true professional aims to do every day,” he added.

Mike Hensley, RPR, is a freelance court reporter from Evanston, Ill., and a member of NCRA’s New Professionals Committee. At the 2016 NCRA Convention & Expo in Chicago, Ill., Hensley had the opportunity to watch the Realtime Contest. He said watching it gave him the chance to be exposed to new approaches and methods to attain high-speed writing while watching the best of the best in the industry live in action.

“I was absolutely thrilled and energized just to be in the room, even as a spectator. I was inspired to set goals for myself to be able to join in the fun at my earliest opportunity. I think there’s always something new to observe from the contestants. Every competition is different. Just like our jobs, each session brings a new experience. The competition is so tight; it’s never certain who exactly is going to win top honors,” Hensley said.

“Before observing the contest, it seemed like such a lofty goal. After observing it in person, I gained the feeling that speed contests were definitely something that I could work towards in my personal development. I haven’t competed yet. Right now, I’m working on attaining the necessary certifications in order to be eligible,” he said.

“Several of my mentors are speed contestants. And there are many other contestants who graciously encourage and inspire others to be the best they can be in the profession. Competition in this arena is fun! The participants eagerly welcome new participants,” he added.

According to Hensley, keeping an eye on speed contests offers many ideas for becoming better as a reporter. Even if you don’t compete, you can learn ways to write shorter, faster, and cleaner, he noted. “You don’t have to be able to write at competition speeds in order to make your own skill set stronger and sharper. Seeing the contest live helps to demystify perceptions about the event and make it more accessible. If you have even the slightest interest, I highly recommend you watch the next contest that you can,” said Hensley.

He also encourages students to make the effort to watch the contests as spectators and use the experience as another opportunity to learn from those who are experienced in the profession.

“The Speed Contest participants are arguably some of the best in the field. Who wouldn’t want to watch the best of the best? Speed contests are also extremely motivating for those who have the competitive spirit. It’s the same as watching Olympic athletes. Not only do you see the results of hard work, but you also get an idea of the training and dedication it takes to reach that level of excellence.”

Are you up for the challenge? Register now to participate in the Speed or Realtime Contests when you register for the 2017 NCRA Convention and Expo at NCRA.org/convention.

For more inspiration, be sure to read “Five minutes with Speed Champ Jeff Weigl” and “Five minutes with Realtime Champ Dee Boenau.” For those competing or considering to compete, be sure to read “Top 11 tips from Speed and Realtime Contests graders,” written by Russell Page and Pat Miller, CRI, CPE, veteran members of NCRA’s Contest Committee and long-term contest graders.

Don’t miss all the perks of early registration. Book a room at the Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino for the opportunity to win — NCRA is offering prizes to those staying in the discounted room block at Planet Hollywood, including a refund of your entire convention registration and a Kindle Fire tablet to those who additionally download the app. Special room rates disappear July 4.

Top 11 tips from Speed and Realtime Contests graders

contestsBy Russell Page and Pat Miller

Some things do not change from steno school, when grading students who are striving for skill to the grading of papers of the skilled reporters who are striving for new heights of speed and accuracy in the Speed and Realtime Contests. For a different perspective, we thought that as people who review the contest papers, we could share the errors we saw. So many great writers participate in the contests, and little things can make a big difference. Even if you are not planning to compete in a state or national contest, we hope that these tips can help you.

  1. Our first piece of advice is the one we wish all contestants would take to heart: Have fun. Even though your goal in challenging yourself through steno contests may be to support a serious or professional outcome, the participation in preparing for and taking contests with your peers, where each contestant is in a game against oneself, should at the very least to be fun. And maybe at the very most, too.
  2. Second big reveal: Prepare the procedures for setting up, writing, and turning in the contest papers. Go through the steps so often that you have no need to doubt yourself. Make a list of what you use and check it off item by item when packing for travel to the convention. If you are not certain that some item, such as a surge protector, will be provided, pack one.

Feel confident that you have with you what you need to succeed, regardless of where you place, from your listening skills and focus to your up-to-date steno skills to all the necessary equipment on hand.

  1. Write with intent. Call it practice if you wish. Writing with intent means that you are writing steno in a way that maximizes your chances of winning a contest, which may simply be upping your game from the last challenge or may take you all the way to the medal round. Write a section and then play the audio to check your translation but also check your steno. What outlines may be sabotaging your speed or realtime? We know what comes up most often. See tip Five.
  2. Write using the guidelines as your guides. Know the contests rules and “errors or allowed” prep sheets front to back and practice with those as your guide. If you can translate in all caps for Realtime, thereby not having any capitalization errors, practice using all-caps translation so that you can give yourself a grading advantage right from the get-go. Graders are not looking for saleable transcripts. They are looking for best possible, advanced skills translation.
  3. Five discloses the biggest error: That is that. That shows up as a pronoun in two categories of pronoun use, as a conjunction, as an adjective, and as an adverb. It’s a big deal. It matters in contests in ways that it may not matter even in verbatim writing on the job. When you are working in Tip 3, writing with intent, practice listening for “that” and then note when you miss it as you read back to assess your take. Are there patterns to when you hear and stroke it correctly and to when you miss it? If you find patterns that you can change to improve your grade, know that it will improve your work output as well. A two-fer. A bonus.
  4. Don’t get fancy unless practice fancy. If you put in an open quote but not a close quote, points will be deducted even if quotes were not necessary in that instance. This is true for comma pairs. The grading guidelines are really generous about the need or lack thereof for commas. If you put a comma in that requires a partner and you miss the partner, you might begin to rack up the errors. As with “that,” commas are everywhere.
  5. Think of contests as a travel job for another reporting agency. You will receive formatting guidelines and preview material so that you represent the agency seamlessly and consistently with the work of the agency’s regular pool of writers. If you want the job, you follow their guide sheets. If you want to pass grading, you have to work with the guidelines at hand.
  6. When you are writing realtime contests, consider not writing what you don’t know will translate. An untran of three strokes is three errors at least. One missed word is one error. If you are going to try to write a word, have the skill necessary to quickly delete what didn’t translate and move on.
  7. When you are transcribing speed contests, don’t be in a hurry. Few contestants spend even half the time allowed per leg on any one leg. We are not remarking on contestants who “know” they didn’t pass but are transcribing “just to see” how they did. These are contestants who pass at 95 percent and above but who miss the simplest things because they didn’t just sit with each leg as if it was going to be a saleable transcript. If you don’t need the full ninety minutes per leg, great. But please do not rush and regret. The 280 Testimony is 1,400 words. Even if it takes 45 minutes to complete the transcription, that leaves 45 minutes to review, to perhaps read it backwards to catch misspellings and errors in consistency.
  8. There is no cell phones and no Internet use during the contest. Everyone who attends either of NCRA’s Speed and Realtime Contests is asked to turn off their cell phones and leave it outside the room. If you cannot be untethered during the contest due to life’s circumstances, it is best to sit out these events. In addition, there is no cell phone use and no Internet use during transcription. It’s you against you, no additional assists. Writer with writer, mano a keyboard, you versus the Speed of the Spoken Word. But remember tip #1 – this should be fun. Mechanical and technical interruptions that break the focus of the contestants ruin the pure joy of writing with intent. Intent to challenge. Intent to win. Turn them off and turn them in and then tune in to your inner steno writing warrior.
  9. Graders do not want to find errors. It is such a thrill to grade for pages before an error sneaks in. We gasp, we groan, we look for every opportunity to give back points where we can within the guidelines. We are in awe and humbled each year by the level of enthusiasm, commitment, and skill of all of the contestants who sign up and show up, who know that you can’t win if you don’t play.

Russell Page and Pat Miller, CRI, CPE, are Contests Committee members and have participated in the grading process for years.

2016 Speed Contest results

Speed Contest

2016 Speed Contest results


Place   Errors Percentage
1 Jeffrey Weigl, RMR, CRR, CRC 52 98.588%
2 Melanie Humphrey-Sonntag, RDR, CRR, CRC 91 97.516%
3 Karen Tyler, RDR, CRR, CRC 99 97.263%
4 Donna Urlaub, RMR, CRR 101 97.238%
5 Jennifer Dunn, RMR, CRR, CLVS 101 97.199%
6 Douglas Zweizig, RDR, CRR 121 96.647%



Place   Errors Percentage
1 Jeffrey Weigl, RMR, CRR, CRC 6 99.455%
2 Deanna Boenau, RDR, CRR, CRC 10 99.091%
2 John Wissenbach, RDR. CRR, CRC 10 99.091%
3 Amanda Maze, RMR, CRR, CRC 12 98.909%
3 Donna Urlaub, RMR, CRR 12 98.909%
4 Melanie Humphrey-Sonntag, RDR, CRR, CRC 13 98.818%
4 Karen Tyler, RDR, CRR, CRC 13 98.818%
5 Lorie Kennedy, RMR, CRR 16 98.545%
6 Kathy Cortopassi, RMR, CRR, CRC 21 98.091%
7 Jennifer Dunn, RMR, CRR, CLVS 22 98.000%
8 Mary Schweinhagen, RDR, CRR 23 97.909%
9 Bernice Radavich, RDR, CRR, CRC, CPE 24 97.818%
9 Anthony Trujillo, RMR, CRR 24 97.818%
10 Ronald Cook, RDR, CRR, CRC 26 97.636%
10 Tami Frazier, RMR, CRR 26 97.636%
10 Suzanne Kelly, RDR, CRR, CRC, CPE 26 97.636%
11 Chase Frazier, RMR, CRR, CRC 28 97.455%
12 Kimberly Greiner, RMR, CRR 30 97.273%
13 Rich Germosen, RMR, CRR 32 97.091%
14 Paula Campbell, RDR, CRR, CRC 36 96.727%
14 Kathryn Thomas, RDR, CRR, CRC 36 96.727%
14 Douglas Zweizig, RDR, CRR 36 96.727%
15 Allison Hall, RMR, CRR 39 96.455%
16 Alan Peacock, RDR, CRR, CRC 42 96.182%
17 Joyce Casey, RDR, CRR, CRC 46 95.818%
18 Darlene Fuller, RMR, CRR 53 95.182%
19 David Collier, RMR, CRR 54 95.091%



Place   Errors Percentage
1 Jeffrey Weigl, RMR, CRR, CRC 26 97.739%
2 Melanie Humphrey-Sonntag, RDR, CRR, CRC 45 96.087%
3 Douglas Zweizig, RDR, CRR 46 96.000%
4 Jennifer Dunn, RMR, CRR, CLVS 49 95.739%
5 Donna Urlaub, RMR, CRR 54 95.304%
6 Karen Tyler, RDR, CRR, CRC 57 95.043%



Place   Errors Percentage
1 Jeffrey Weigl, RMR, CRR, CRC 20 98.571%
2 Karen Tyler, RDR, CRR, CRC 29 97.929%
3 Jennifer Dunn, RMR, CRR, CLVS 30 97.857%
4 Lorie Kennedy, RMR, CRR 31 97.786%
5 Melanie Humphrey-Sonntag, RDR, CRR, CRC 33 97.643%
6 Bernice Radavich, RDR, CRR, CRC, CPE 35 97.500%
6 Donna Urlaub, RMR, CRR 35 97.500%
7 Douglas Zweizig, RDR, CRR 39 97.214%
8 Rich Germosen, RMR, CRR 45 96.786%
9 John Wissenbach, RDR. CRR, CRC 49 96.500%
10 Tami Frazier, RMR, CRR 50 96.429%
11 Joyce Casey, RDR, CRR, CRC 55 96.071%
12 Paula Campbell, RDR, CRR, CRC 59 95.786%



Catching up with the Speed Contest winner

Juli-LaBadia_color_correct2Julianne LaBadia, RDR, CRR, CBC, CCP, an official court reporter for the Delaware Court of Chancery, in Wilmington, Del., won the 2015 Speed Contest in New York, N.Y. The JCR Weekly caught up with her back on the job to find out a little more about her practice methods and what it’s like to be a part of the competitions.

What appealed to you about competing in the speed or realtime contest?

I think probably every reporter hears about the speed/realtime contests and says to themselves, “Wow, I wonder if I could make it in the big league.” To me, passing a take at those speeds is the ultimate test of skill in our profession, and it’s always been something I wanted to try, to challenge myself and to have the experience of being there. I’ve spent the past 20 years balancing raising kids and my career, so the NCRA contests were something more in the back of my mind, a “someday” kind of thing. When the convention was in Philly a few years ago, I was in the Realtime Systems Administrator seminar during the contests, so I couldn’t enter then. When I found out this year’s convention was in New York City, it seemed the perfect opportunity, an easy enough thing to take a few days off and take the train up.

How did you train for this competition?

Probably three or four months ago, I thought to myself that it might be smart to actually practice at 280 wpm if I was going to enter the contest, so I bought several CDs of past contests from NCRA. Since I provide realtime every day, it’s a completely different mindset to let go of striving for perfection and focus on just trying to get the words down. Dropping punctuation to get down the words was really hard for me. I work in the Delaware Court of Chancery, which is very hard, technical stuff almost every day, at fairly high rates of speed, and my colleagues and I are constantly batting around ideas for how to make our job easier and do it better. We trade briefs and talk about the best way to deal with punctuating impossible-to-punctuate oral arguments. So although none of my colleagues wanted to participate in the speed contest, practicing speedbuilding together just seemed like a natural extension of that. Even when 280 seems impossible and practicing at that speed frustrates and humbles you, I think it really does improve one’s ability to write cleaner at 230. And it’s helpful to have someone to laugh with you about yourself when you are just blown away by a take. So pretty much any day that some of us or all of us had a chunk of free time over the past few months, we would put the CDs in and practice for a bit. For the two or three weeks before the contest, I did make it a point to practice for about half an hour every day.

You competed in the New Mexico speed contest in 1996 and won second place, which was the only previous contest you’d entered. Why did you enter that contest? How was your preparation for the New Mexico contest different from how you prepared for this one?

Twenty years ago I was still pretty much a hotshot young kid, so although I don’t remember how it came about that New Mexico decided to have a speed contest that year, I think it was just expected, by myself and everyone else, that I would enter. My son was born prematurely in December of 1995 and wasn’t sleeping through the night by that time, and I was a month into what turned out to be a nine-month, realtime, daily-copy hearing for the Department of the Interior. So I would say I probably didn’t take that one as seriously as this one. I know I practiced — I still have those old cassettes somewhere — but I don’t remember being extremely anxious about it. I was probably too exhausted to psyche myself out about it!

How did you react when you found out that you’d won the national speed contest?

Well, I obviously did not expect to win, or I certainly would have stayed in New York for the awards luncheon! It’s beyond embarrassing that I wasn’t even there, and just thinking about it makes me cringe. I mean, I was happy with my takes and knew I had done the absolute best I could, but I never suspected that I did as well as I did. I thought I might get a ribbon in the mail or something.

I was at home when my former boss texted me, “Congratulations! I’m so proud of you.” I texted back, “Do you know which parts I passed?” And he let me know that I had won. (At which point I believe I shrieked and danced around the kitchen for a bit before letting my colleagues know.)

I was completely shocked, and I pretty much still am. It seems a bit surreal, honestly. As late as the practice dictation the morning of the contest, I was sure that I wouldn’t be able to pass the 280. I had actually gone to New York with the idea that the realtime would be my thing and I was just taking the speed contest to see if I could pass any part of it. And, of course, I didn’t even pass the realtime Q&A! Jeff Weigl also had no errors on the Q&A, and three of us had only one error on the literary. I consider it beyond lucky that I work in a court where I hear legal opinion about the factors to consider in a class action settlement on a routine basis. I have briefs for a bunch of the terms that came up.

Has your win affected you in any way?

The chancellor and vice chancellors I work for are now making jokes on the record inviting counsel to please speak as fast as they possibly can, and I’ve heard more than once “Oh, you’re that Juli” (the one that couldn’t be found), but other than that, things remain pretty much the same.

Registration options for the 2015 NCRA Convention & Expo

NCRA has received questions on what’s included in each registration package for the 2015 NCRA Convention & Expo. Here’s a breakdown of each registration option so that members can make their decision before registration prices go up by $50 after July 6 (extended deadline!).

Full registration discount package

  • With general seating
  • With VIP seating

Best value! The full registration discount package includes admission to concurrent seminars, the Premier Session, the Opening Reception, the Awards Luncheon, the President’s Party, the Annual Business Meeting, and a 3-day Expo pass. It does not include pre-convention intensive workshops, special programs, workshops, or the CLVS Seminar.

Partial registration

  • Three days
  • Two days (Fri./Sat. or Sat./Sun.)
  • One day (Fri. or Sat.)
  • Sunday only (half-day)

Partial registration includes admission to concurrent seminars on the days registered, the Premier Session, the Annual Business Meeting, and a 3-day Expo pass. It does not include pre-convention intensive workshops, special programs, workshops, or the CLVS Seminar. Social event tickets are not included in this package.

CLVS Seminar

  • Three days (Fri./Sat./Sun.)
  • Two days (Fri./Mandatory Day [Sat.] or Sat./Sun.)
  • One-day (Mandatory Day [Sat.])

Registration for the CLVS Seminar includes one ticket to the legal videographer reception and a 3-day Expo pass. It does not include other social events, concurrent seminars, or special programs/events. Those items must be purchased separately.

Special programs and events

  • National Speed Competition
  • Realtime Competition
  • Special offer — Speed & Realtime Competition combo
  • Punctuation Workshop
  • Teachers’ Workshop

The Speed and Realtime Competitions are not included with partial registration, certification programs packages, or the CLVS Seminar and must be purchased separately. Please register for the Punctuation Workshop and Teachers’ Workshop to reserve your seat.

Certificate and certification programs

  • Realtime Systems Administrators Workshop
  • Realtime Systems Administrators Exam
  • Certified Reporting Instructor Orientation
  • Certified Realtime Captioner Workshop
  • Certified Realtime Captioner Exam

Registration for these certificate and certification programs includes a 3-day Expo pass; social events are not included. The Certified Realtime Captioner Workshop includes admission to concurrent seminars on Friday and Saturday afternoons after the workshop breaks for the day. Partial registration (Sunday) will be required for attendance at Sunday concurrent seminars.

Pre-convention vendor workshops

  • Advantage Software/Eclipse
  • ProCAT
  • Stenograph

These intensive training seminars are held on Thursday, July 30. Registration for these workshops includes a 3-day Expo pass. Select which vendor workshop you wish to attend.

Networking package

  • Networking package general seating
  • Networking package VIP seating

The networking package includes the Opening Reception, the Awards Luncheon, the President’s Party, the Premier Seminar, the Annual Business Meeting, and a 3-day Expo pass.

Individual social event tickets

  • Opening Reception (Thurs.)
  • CLVS Reception (Fri.)
  • CART/Captioner’s Reception (Fri.)
  • Awards Luncheon (Sat.)
  • President’s Party (Sat.) — general seating
  • President’s Party (Sat.) — VIP seating

Social event tickets are not included with partial registration, certification programs packages, or the CLVS Seminar (except as noted) and must be purchased separately.

Register now or visit the registration information page for a breakdown of prices.