Ready? Begin! Gear up for this year’s National Speed and Realtime Contests

Speed and accuracy enthusiasts, don’t miss this year’s National Speed and Realtime Contests taking place at NCRA’s 2019 Convention & Expo happening in Denver, Colo., from Aug. 15-18. Start your convention excitement early by registering to participate in one or both contests or by attending as a spectator and cheering on your favorite contestant. Contest registration can be found at

NCRA member Kathy A. Cortopassi, RMR, CRR, CRC, a captioner and owner of Voice to Print Captioning from Chester S.C., has competed in numerous state and national contests. For those who are considering competing in this year’s events or for those returning to the ring for another shot at greatness, she offers the following advice:

“Loosen up! If you write anywhere around 260 wpm regularly, you’re going to be fine. You speed up when you need to at work; this is just five minutes. You endure much more than that on every job! Soak up the advice you hear in the room of superstars. Apply what you can; shelve or flush what you cannot.  

“And don’t make any brand-new changes to your dictionary/writing in the weeks leading up to the contests, like I did last year. Bit me in the butt royally on a test I know I would have done so well on. I made a conflict out of toe/tow. Eclipse was supposed to be smart enough to differentiate between the two, right? Probably what more likely happened is I didn’t global them right or have a setting right. And guess what words came up in the Realtime test over and over again? I didn’t beat myself up; I just laughed and figured, yep, you knew better. Figures it would be those exact words you worked on that would come up in the test, you dummy! So trust your skills, your dictionary, your writing, and your experience.

“There really isn’t too much practice time before the contests. So do your own in the privacy of your hotel room. Don’t spend precious minutes before the test warming up. Schmooze with the superstars. Warm up before you go down to the contest room. Don’t expect to do it right before the test.

“Last, don’t look at the superstars and feel less deserving, less qualified, that you’ll never beat them, or whatever. They’re every bit as human as you are. This might be their worst test. If you think like that, you’ll give yourself more confidence to allow yourself to do well. After all, most of this is in our mind anyway. We’re our own worst enemy. Think you’re a champ, and you will be.

“I just enjoy being with these superstars every year, the only time, really, for most of them all year. They’re my heroes, friends. And they make you feel so welcome; not at all a clique. No greater-than-thou mentality. Encouraging, happy, uplifting, and positive. Even joking with the Contest Committee members and last year’s champs. It’s just a great place to be, whether you are a competitor or a quiet, silent observer.”  

And for those students who dream of competing at the state or national level someday, Cortopassi offers the following advice:

“Never quit. Never give up. Don’t be upset when others pass tests; rejoice with them. You will be rejoicing yourself soon or some day. Remember the golden rule: Do unto others as you want them to do unto you. If a test is too fast for you now, it will not be one day. Keep plugging away at it. A marathon is won one mile at a time.

“And set goals for yourself. Dream about those goals. Nearly everyone who competes in any sport will tell you that visualization works. See yourself finishing. See yourself graduating. See yourself passing tests. What clothes are you wearing? What’s the expression on your face? What reward will you/others give you/yourself for that?

“But don’t worry with reporting school about setting dates for achieving those goals. Give yourself a neighborhood” of a date, for example, “around January 2020 I will pass ____.

“Come watch us at the NCRA Annual Convention Speed Contests and Realtime Competitions in Colorado – and see yourself competing one day!”

NCRA’s 2019 Convention & Expo will be one of the Association’s most exciting ever as it features renowned consumer advocate and environmental activist Erin Brockovich as keynote speaker. In addition to innovative educational sessions and endless opportunities to network, you won’t want to miss an Expo Hall that promises to showcase the latest in products and services for the court reporting, captioning, and legal videography professions. And don’t forget to pack your best duds for the Denim & Diamonds-themed Member Recognition Gala that takes place the evening of Saturday, August 17.

Space is limited for this year’s festivities, so make your plans now to attend this premier event happening in the Mile High City that offers visitors a breathtaking backdrop with a range of sights, sounds, and tastes like no other city.

Hurry! Deadlines for lodging and registration are looming. For more information about the 2019 NCRA Convention & Expo, or to register, visit Special online registration pricing ends July 31, after which onsite pricing for registration will take effect.  

Attendees are also encouraged to reserve hotel rooms for the Convention at the Hyatt Regency Denver at Colorado Convention Center by July 19 to secure the special NCRA rate. Staying at the host hotel not only means great amenities for registered attendees (including continental breakfast on Friday and Saturday), but it also helps NCRA keep rates for events reasonable for everyone.

For sponsorship information please contact Mary Petto, Senior Director of External Affairs, at

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 Realtime Contest Results


Place   Percentage
1 Mark Kislingbury, RDR, CRR 99.245%
2 Doug Zweizig, RDR, CRR 98.933%
3 Julianne LaBadia, RDR, CRR, CRC 98.522%
4 Sherry Bryant, RMR, CRR 98.372%
5 Dee Boenau, RDR, CRR, CRC 98.045%
6 Ron Cook, RDR, CRR, CRC 97.872%
7 Lance Boardman, RPR, CRR 97.678%
8 Sheri Smargon, RDR, CRR, CRC 97.395%
9 John Wissenbach, RDR, CRR, CRC 96.572%
10 Patrick Mahon, RMR, CRR 95.850%
11 Donna Karoscik, RDR, CRR, CRC 95.745%



Place   Errors Percentage
1 Dee Boenau 8 99.200%
1 Mark Kislingbury 8 99.200%
1 Douglas Zweizig 8 99.200%
2 Ron Cook 15 98.500%
3 Chase Frazier, RMR, CRR, CRC 18 98.200%
3 Julianne LaBadia 18 98.200%
4 Sherry Bryant 21 97.900%
5 John Wissenbach 25 97.500%
6 Karla Ray, RMR, CRR, CRC, CRI 28 97.200%
7 Sheri Smargon 29 97.100%
8 Lance Boardman 34 96.600%
9 Donna Karoscik 38 96.200%
10 Patrick Mahon, RMR, CRR 43 95.700%



Place   Errors Percentage
1 Mark Kislingbury 8 99.289%
2 Sherry Bryant 13 98.844%
2 Julianne LaBadia 13 98.844%
3 Lance Boardman 14 98.756%
4 Doug Zweizig 15 98.667%
5 Patricia Nilsen, RMR, CRR, CRC, CRI 23 97.956%
6 Sheri Smargon 26 97.689%
7 Ron Cook 31 97.244%
8 Dee Boenau 35 96.889%
9 Laura Landerman, RMR, CRR 40 96.444%
9 Donna Urlaub, RMR, CRR 40 96.444%
10 Melanie Wilkins, RMR, CRR 42 96.267%
11 Kathy Cortopassi, RMR, CRR, CRC 44 96.089%
11 Rich Germosen, RMR, CRR 44 96.089%
12 Patrick Mahon 45 96.000%
13 Katy Zamora, RMR, CRR 47 95.822%
14 John Wissenbach 49 95.644%
15 Traci Mertens, RDR, CRR, CRC 50 95.556%
16 Donna Karoscik 53 95.289%
17 Elizabeth Frazier, RMR, CRR, CRC 54 95.200%
18 Kathryn Thomas, RDR, CRR, CRC 56 95.022%
19 Allison Hall, RMR, CRR 57 95.000%
19 Kathryn Sweeney, RMR, CRR 57 95.000%

* Contest results are preliminary.

NCRA celebrates the Best. Friday. Ever.

NCRA members can kick off their holiday shopping season on Nov. 24 by taking advantage of Black Friday discounts and giveaways being offered with the purchase of membership renewals, store items, educational sessions, and more.

NCRA members who renew their membership or join on Nov. 24 will be entered into a drawing to win a free registration to the 2018 NCRA Convention & Expo. Registered members who renew on Black Friday will automatically be entered into a drawing to win a free registration for the Speed or Realtime Contests held at the 2018 NCRA Convention & Expo. Members who renew their membership on Nov. 24 will also be eligible to win one of two Kindle Fires. That means the members who qualify may have three opportunities to win!

Other Best Friday Ever specials include a 20 percent discount on all NCRA Store items purchased using the promotional code FRIDAY at checkout. In addition, members who register for the 2018 NCRA Firm Owners Executive Conference and book their stay at The Don CeSar will be entered into a drawing for a free spouse registration for the event.

Members who purchase an NCRA e-seminar on Nov. 24 will be entered into a drawing to win a free e-seminar while members who purchase a Skills Test on Black Friday will be entered into a drawing to win one of two free Skills Test registrations.

Members are urged to mark their calendars to be sure they don’t miss the discounts and giveaways being offered only on Nov. 24.

NCRA member’s Realtime Contest win reported in local newspaper

JCR: Journal of Court Reporting,, JCR WeeklyThe Sarasota, Fla., Herald-Tribune reported that Dee Boenau, FAPR, RDR, CRR, CRC, won the 2017 NCRA Realtime Contest. Boenau, who works as a broadcast captioner, won the contest for the second year in a row.

Read more.

Five minutes with Realtime Champ Dee Boenau

Deanna Boenau_2016 Realtime ContestThe JCR reached out to Dee Boenau, RDR, CRR, CRC, a broadcast captioner in Sarasota, Fla., about her Realtime Contest win, the importance of realtime, practice tips, and using the spotlight to promote the profession.

What appealed to you about competing in the speed and realtime contests?

I’ve always competed just as a way to see how my skills have improved. It’s fun and exciting to see how the changes I have made to my theory over the years have increased my speed and accuracy.

 Do you have a preference on which one you would prefer to win?

I like to win the Realtime Contest because realtime writing is what I do, and I believe realtime translation is the lifeblood of court reporting and captioning. However, I would not mind adding the prestigious title of Speed Contest Champion to my achievements and having my name added to the historical list of greats in our profession.

 How do you find the two contests different?

I write both contests in the mind-set of realtime. There really is no difference to me other than the faster speed and the opportunity for editing in the Speed Contest. Nerves can be devastating, though, in the Realtime Contest. If the nerves creep in during the Speed Contest, I know I have a chance to edit it. I guess I am a little harder on myself just before the Realtime Contest because of nerves.

Have you been practicing for the upcoming contests?

I do practice close to the time of the contests. I simply don’t have the time to practice year-round. I prefer to actively use my skills in the real world and to further enhance my ability to make a living. Whether I am reporting or captioning, I always review my work. I can’t stress enough to captioners the importance of reading one’s work and looking up what one missed. Over the years, too, practice would be boring to me because it was always the same dictation tapes. Now there are new programs on the market, like ev360 Ultimate, that take practicing to a whole different level and make it fun, too. The last couple of years I’ve been practicing more because of the program.

What advice would you have for a person who has never been in a speed contest before? How can they get started?

Just do it. Sign up and jump right in. The contests may humble you and inspire you at the same time. You could be the next Jeffrey Weigl, RMR, CRR, CRC, or Julianne LaBadia,  RDR, CRR, CRC.

You’ve received quite a lot of coverage based on your wins in the past few years. What has that been like? Do you have any advice for other reporters or captioners who find themselves in the limelight?

When I found myself in the limelight, I spoke with passion. I love writing on the steno machine; it is my favorite piece of technology. Without the steno machine, I could not do my job as a reporter making a record and as a captioner providing communication accessibility to thousands of people. You can’t go wrong talking about what you love because it all comes so naturally. When I first won the Realtime Contest, I was thrilled with the machine I was using and enjoyed talking about it and the technology behind it. When a person speaks with such passion about his or her profession and the advancing technology, it can only inspire others to inquire about court reporting or captioning.

Is there any advice you can give to other NCRA members on how each of us can be an advocate for our profession?

Be the best you can be. Stand up for what is right. Keep the professional image alive.

Any questions we missed or should have asked?

I want to thank NCRA and the Contests Committee for continuing to support the contests. It is a huge undertaking and a sacrifice of convention time for the committee members. I’ve heard that they are often grading papers when people are returning from late-night festivities. Admittedly, the contests are a large part of the reason why I’ve attended the convention 17 years in a row. Yes, I learn from the seminars, but the contests give the convention the wow factor. Thank you, NCRA, past sponsors, and any future sponsors!

Read our interview with Speed Champ Jeff Weigl.

2016 Realtime Contest results

Realtime Contest

2016 Realtime Contest results


Place   Errors Percentage
1 Deanna Boenau, RDR, CRR, CRC 11 99.489%
2 Ronald Cook, RDR, CRR, CRC 11 99.483%
3 Amanda Maze, RMR, CRR, CRC 21 99.022%
4 Mark Kislingbury, RDR, CRR 24 98.850%
5 Donna Karoscik, RDR, CRR, CRC 26 98.800%
6 Jeffrey Weigl, RMR, CRR, CRC 27 98.767%
7 Douglas Zweizig, RDR, CRR 26 98.739%
8 Dana Hayden, RMR, CRR 32 98.528%
9 Judith Walsh, RDR, CRR, CRC 31 98.517%
10 John Wissenbach, RDR. CRR, CRC 35 98.344%
11 Laura Kooy, RDR, CRR 45 97.911%
12 Chase Frazier, RMR, CRR, CRC 49 97.694%
13 Lance Boardman, RDR, CRR 58 97.217%
14 Diane Kraynak, RMR, CRR 60 97.178%
15 Karyn Menck, RDR, CRR, CRC 64 97.067%
16 Donna Urlaub, RMR, CRR 62 97.050%
17 Rich Germosen, RMR, CRR 65 96.933%
18 Tami Frazier, RMR, CRR 73 96.578%
19 Kathy Cortopassi, RMR, CRR, CRC 90 95.761%



Place   Errors Percentage
1 Deanna Boenau, RDR, CRR, CRC 4 99.600%
2 Ronald Cook, RDR, CRR, CRC 5 99.500%
3 Jeffrey Weigl, RMR, CRR, CRC 6 99.400%
4 Donna Karoscik, RDR, CRR, CRC 8 99.200%
4 Amanda Maze, RMR, CRR, CRC 8 99.200%
5 Dana Hayden, RMR, CRR 9 99.100%
6 Mark Kislingbury, RDR, CRR 15 98.500%
7 Laura Kooy, RDR, CRR 16 98.400%
7 Karyn Menck, RDR, CRR, CRC 16 98.400%
8 John Wissenbach, RDR. CRR, CRC 18 98.200%
9 Judith Walsh, RDR, CRR, CRC 19 98.100%
9 Douglas Zweizig, RDR, CRR 19 98.100%
10 Chase Frazier, RMR, CRR, CRC 23 97.700%
11 Diane Kraynak, RMR, CRR 28 97.200%
11 Jennifer Schuck, RDR, CRR, CRC 28 97.200%
12 Kelly Linkowski, RPR, CRR, CRC, CPE 31 96.900%
13 Tami Frazier, RMR, CRR 32 96.800%
13 Rich Germosen, RMR, CRR 32 96.800%
14 Jennifer Dunn, RMR, CRR, CLVS 33 96.700%
15 Karla Sommer, RMR, CRR, CRC 34 96.600%
16 Donna Urlaub, RMR, CRR 35 96.500%
17 Lance Boardman, RDR, CRR 37 96.300%
18 Bernice Radavich, RDR, CRR, CRC, CPE 38 96.200%
19 Kathy Cortopassi, RMR, CRR, CRC 43 95.700%
20 D. Keith Johnson, RDR, CRR, CRC 45 95.500%
20 Suzanne Kelly, RDR, CRR, CRC, CPE 45 95.500%
20 Stanley Sakai, CRC, New York, NY 45 95.500%
21 Janice Plomp, RDR, CRR, CRC, CRI 47 95.300%




Place   Errors Percentage
1 Ronald Cook, RDR, CRR, CRC 6 99.467%
2 Deanna Boenau, RDR, CRR, CRC 7 99.378%
2 Douglas Zweizig, RDR, CRR 7 99.378%
3 Mark Kislingbury, RDR, CRR 9 99.200%
4 Deanna Dean, RDR, CRR 12 98.933%
4 Judith Walsh, RDR, CRR, CRC 12 98.933%
5 Amanda Maze, RMR, CRR, CRC 13 98.844%
6 John Wissenbach, RDR. CRR, CRC 17 98.489%
7 Donna Karoscik, RDR, CRR, CRC 18 98.400%
8 Lance Boardman, RDR, CRR 21 98.133%
8 Jeffrey Weigl, RMR, CRR, CRC 21 98.133%
9 Dana Hayden, RMR, CRR 23 97.956%
10 Chase Frazier, RMR, CRR, CRC 26 97.689%
10 Debbie Amos Isbell, RDR, CRR, CRC 26 97.689%
11 Donna Urlaub, RMR, CRR 27 97.600%
12 Laura Kooy, RDR, CRR 29 97.422%
13 Patrick Mahon, RMR, CRR 30 97.333%
13 Karen Tyler, RDR, CRR, CRC 30 97.333%
14 Diane Kraynak, RMR, CRR 32 97.156%
15 Rich Germosen, RMR, CRR 33 97.067%
16 Tami Frazier, RMR, CRR 41 96.356%
17 Kathy Cortopassi, RMR, CRR, CRC 47 95.822%
17 Melanie Humphrey-Sonntag, RDR, CRR, CRC 47 95.822%
18 Karyn Menck, RDR, CRR, CRC 48 95.733%
19 Stephanie Battaglia, RMR, CRR 50 95.556%
20 Paula Campbell, RDR, CRR, CRC 53 95.289%
21 Carolyn Cox, RPR, CRR, CPE 54 95.200%

Just do it

Thinking of competing in speed or realtime contests? Just do it, say the pros.

By Annemarie Roketenetz

Many of the 2015 Speed and Realtime contestantsA major highlight at the NCRA Convention & Expo is always the Speed and Realtime Contests, and this year in Chicago will be no exception. As past and new contenders begin to gear up for the competitions, the JCR recently put out a call to previous champions in both divisions to find out what motivates them to compete as well as to share tips and strategies they rely on when prepping for the challenge.

What about the Speed and Realtime Contests attracted you to participate?

Knowing I am a competent reporter is one thing, but wondering if I could hang in there with those who have participated in the contests is what motivated me to enter. It’s something I had always wanted to do and I found myself at a time and place in life where I could go for it.

Juli LaBadia, RDR, CRR, CRC

2015 Speed Contest Winner

Wilmington, Del.

The contests are fun, and the people you meet are usually great.

Dee Boenau, RDR, CRR, CRC

2010 Realtime Contest Winner

Sarasota, Fla.

I wanted to experience that upper level of competition in my own head and push myself. I had realized how far I’d come in practicing so seriously for all my certifications and what a better reporter I was every day because of it and realized that the practice, if nothing else, would make me a much better reporter!

Michelle Kirkpatrick, RDR, CRR, CRC

National Realtime Contest qualifier

Broomfi eld, Colo.

I wanted to be able to test my skills and read about the speed and realtime contests and was always curious.

Rich Germosen, RMR, CRR

NCRA Speed and Realtime Contest qualifier

North Brunswick, N.J.

Never had any interest in speed contests, but I wanted the bragging rights of doing well in the realtime contest.

Mirabai Knight, RDR, CRR, CRC

Realtime Contest qualifier

New York, N.Y.

Once you participate one time, you’re hooked. It’s like an addiction. I missed an annual convention a few years ago, and the worst part was not getting to compete!

Donna J. Karoscik, RDR, CRR, CRC

Realtime Contest qualifier

Pickerington, Ohio

Just the personal challenge of keeping up with such an elite group of colleagues. Knowing I qualify actually gives me confidence that I can handle just about any assignment in my everyday job.

Patricia Orsini Nilsen, RMR, CRR, CRC, CRI

Speed and Realtime Contest qualifier

New York, N.Y.

Because machine shorthand is a skill, I have looked at speedbuilding as a sport or game since I first started learning theory. The NCRA Speed and Realtime Contests are the Olympics, and having the opportunity to participate is an absolute thrill.

Jeffrey Weigl, RMR, CRR, CRC

Speed and Realtime Contest medal-winner

Edmonton, AB, Canada

When I sat down to practice for the contest, I gave myself permission to write for speed. It was as if I had thrown off the shackles, a very freeing experience. This put me on a quest to write short and conflict-free.

Donna M. Urlaub, RMR, CRR

Speed Contest medal-winner

Chicago, Ill.

How far in advance do you begin to prepare to compete?

When I first started competing, six months in advance. As my baseline speed over time got better as a result of competing over the course of years, I started about three months in advance.

Alan H. Brock, RDR, CRR

2003 and 2011 Speed Contest Winner

Boston, Mass.

This year, I started in March but only because I was on vacation in February. Last year I did not start nearly soon enough! And my results showed it.

Michelle Kirkpatrick

I’m always preparing. I maintain practice for the simple reason that if I don’t, my accuracy starts failing. And my consumers deserve better than that.

Kathryn A. Thomas, RDR, CRR, CRC

Speed and Realtime Contest qualifier

Caseyville, Ill.

About a month before the contest.

Patricia Orsini Nilsen

About a month and a half out, I will begin to get back into speedbuilding one or two times a week, which really amounts to just trying to recover the speed that I have inevitably lost over the course of the year being away from timed dictation. The month leading up to the contest is when I really begin a concerted, consistent practice regimen. I do my best to practice every single day during this time, for as little as ten minutes to as long as an hour.

Jeffrey Weigl

What does your prepping entail to compete?

I try to practice Q&A material as much as possible with ev360 Ultimate.

Dee Boenau

“Practicing with a purpose” is key. For the realtime contest, working out the kinks in my dictionary and in my writing, just like with the realtime certifications practice but to a greater degree. For the speed contest, learning to write shorter and learning to scramble faster and faster, just like with the speed certifications practice but to a greater degree!

Michelle Kirkpatrick

I practiced with past Speed Contests, mainly. I also used Realtime Coach for the realtime contest prep. I realtime every day at work, so I just made sure to add new entries to my dictionary and learned new briefs and phrases.

Anthony D. Frisolone, RDR, CRR, CRC, CRI

Speed Contest participant

Staten Island, N.Y.

I always hear people say that fast depositions are practice. Not for me. I like to put in speed tapes (yes, tapes!) and speed them up even faster. Then I turn on the television and find the most obscure show to practice getting new words into my dictionary.

Donna J. Karoscik

My speed practice entails warm-up with finger drills followed by speedbuilding at levels at least 20 wpm above the actual contest speeds. I have not yet done any specific training for the realtime contest. My game plan when participating has been to pretend it is a speed contest and just try to stay on top of the dictation as best I can without actually worrying about the realtime translation.

Jeffrey Weigl

What do you take away from the experience of competing?

It helped me become a far better reporter. Almost as important is the pleasure of making new friends, of the warm support the contestants give newcomers.

Alan H. Brock

It’s great rubbing elbows and just being in the same room with some of the best writers in the country. Everyone is very supportive of each other and is genuinely happy for other reporters that do well.

Rich Germosen

Friendships with my fellow competitors. There’s a saying that if you want to become a better musician, play with musicians who are better than you. This also applies to our profession. That and the deadline of a contest keep me accountable to practice.

Kathryn A. Thomas

It was a great experience, and I am excited to try again now that I am familiar with the format and procedure. It’s an honor to be able to sit next to the best writers in the country (and Canada).

Myrina A. Kleinschmidt, RMR, CRR

National Speed Contest qualifier

Wayzata, Minn.

It’s nothing more than self-satisfaction! There’s also a nice camaraderie built among the contestants.

Patricia Orsini Nilsen

Do you get nervous before the contests and, if so, what do you do to help calm your nerves?

I was nervous right before each take started, which surprised me. I didn’t know what to expect, certainly didn’t think I would be nervous after 28 years as a reporter. But I guess it becomes real when you’re actually there at the start of the competition. To calm myself down, I just had to remind myself that I was only there to prove to myself what I was capable of, no one else’s expectations mattered, and if I didn’t get a grip and go for it, I wouldn’t know.

Juli LaBadia

It can be a mind game. I wasn’t nervous at all in Philadelphia in 2012. Next year in Nashville my hands were sweaty, and I was nervous compared to the previous year. When I hear the words “Ready, begin,” I take a really deep breath, let it out, and then close my eyes and write.

Rich Germosen

I had nothing to lose by entering the contest so I didn’t really get nervous. On the day of the contest, I drove in from my house in Staten Island, got stuck in New York tra­ffic, and made it in the nick of time, so I had just enough time to set up, warm up, and get ready to write. I had no time to get nervous. I don’t recommend that strategy either. I should have gotten a room for the night before the contest.

Anthony D. Frisolone

Not really. I’m usually too busy visiting with colleagues I haven’t seen since the last convention!

Kathryn A. Thomas

Absolutely! I tend to shut myself off from the outside world and try to stay in my own head. I find that once warmed up properly for a contest, listening to music and avoiding any conversation or interaction to be very effective in staying in the zone and keeping myself calm and concentrated. A deep breath and concerted effort to relax my shoulders at the start of each test goes a long way.

Jeffrey Weigl

The adrenaline rush I experience before and during the dictation is almost disabling, most notably quaking hands. My only words of advice: Keep doing it. Practice to new material, pretend you’re at the contest, and write it like it counts.

Donna M. Urlaub

Do you have any special good luck rituals you rely on before you compete?

Good preparation trumps ritual!

Alan H. Brock

I like to wear these lucky red socks on contest day. Kidding! I don’t like to do a ton of warm up in the room pre-dictation. I close my eyes, zone out, and try to forget that this is the contest. Usually in the first sentence of dictation I find myself thinking: Okay, this counts … let’s go. Then I try to close my eyes and zone out. That works best for me.

Rich Germosen

I went to the gym that morning as I usually do, and the workout helped me stay calm and allowed me to be focused on something other than being nervous. I also thought about my dad a lot that morning. He was very supporting of my reporting career and always told me to be the best at what I do. Even though I didn’t come anywhere close to even qualifying, he would have been proud of me for even trying.

Anthony D. Frisolone

I throw on some sort of T-shirt that makes me happy, maybe a sentimental piece of jewelry.

Patricia Orsini Nilsen

Just get a good night’s sleep. If you can, arrive more than a day before so that you can acclimate yourself to the environs, just kind of hang out, and have private time to practice in your room.

Donna M. Urlaub

What advice do you have for first­-time contestants for preparing themselves?

The results never, ever turn out the way you think. Go in with the mindset that you are there for the experience. Be relaxed, and don’t take the competitions so seriously.

Dee Boenau

It’s fun to prepare, and most especially it’s a pleasure to see how the preparation makes you a better reporter.

Alan H. Brock

The tests are slower than you think!

Mirabai Knight

Focus on doing your best, not where you’ll end up on the scoreboard. There is a great deal of pride in knowing you’ve done your best.

Donna J. Karoscik

Definitely attend the practice session the afternoon before! This allows you to become accustomed to the dictators’ voices, write the previous years’ contest material, catch up with and meet fellow sufferers, and just all around settle down and settle in.

Donna M. Urlaub

What is the one tip you would give to some­ one who is considering competing?

You have absolutely nothing to lose by putting yourself out there, especially if you go into it with no expectations except to do your personal best. What’s the worst that could happen that you disappoint yourself? But what if you pass every take instead?

Juli LaBadia

You will enjoy the experience alone even if you do not qualify, and you will meet some great new friends. You have nothing to lose by competing. And you never know; even if it’s your first year competing, that doesn’t mean you won’t win. Last year’s competition is proof of that!

Michelle Kirkpatrick

If you’re an RMR or a CRR and you’ll be at the convention, sign up for the contest. You never know unless you try. Just do it and see how you do.

Rich Germosen

Don’t worry about it. The stakes are not that high.

Mirabai Knight

Just do it.

Dee Boenau

Do you have any advice for people even if they don’t think they want to compete?

Practice does make you better, and you should keep working on refining your dictionary, even 30 years into a career. You owe it to yourself to not become complacent and to be the best reporter that you can be.

Juli LaBadia

We have every reason to be our very best if we want to see our professions grow and thrive. You might just be the next dark horse!

Dee Boenau

Find some way to push yourself. Somewhere. Comfort is fatal.

Kathryn A. Thomas

I would recommend that anyone who is qualified to participate does compete at some point. It has energized me to be better and I am now practicing for Chicago.

Myrina A. Kleinschmidt


Why enter the speed contest?

By Alan H. Brock

Why enter the speed contest? The answer really can be reframed as: Why do we want more speed?

In our everyday work as court reporters, we are constantly thinking, evaluating what we hear and how to render it on our realtime screens. Was that word in or and, imminent or eminent, cost or costs? We want our realtime to be as close to perfect as possible, even if no one else is seeing it, because every mistranslate or untranslate represents time that we have to spend making corrections after our session is over. Time is money; the more time I have to spend working on a transcript after the session is over, the less money I am making per hour worked and the less time I have for other activities in my life.

Of course, if we are taking speakers whose velocity of speech is at the outer limits of our capabilities, then we can’t a­fford to be thinking about those niceties of writing of homonyms and word boundaries, of punctuation, or even of understanding what we are hearing. All we can do is hold onto our hats and try to keep from being bucked o­ the speedy horse. Our guiding principle becomes just getting something down and figuring it out later!

So back to that first question: Why more speed? The more speed we have, the less often we have to spend e­ ort just to keep up and the more we can focus on excellent realtime — and the more money per total hours worked we can make. Speed matters because it makes our realtime better, makes our work easier and less stressful, and earns us more money.

It was great to win the speed contest twice (in 2003 and 2011), but its greatest benefits came just because I was practicing for it, especially in those first years of entering, when I was thrilled just to qualify. My everyday writing became cleaner. I could focus on detailed realtime punctuation. I had time to make notes to myself. My work became far more enjoyable. In short, the most important rewards of gaining more speed have been the results that show up every day in my writing. Preparing for the contest, no matter how well or not I did in any year, has been a game-changer for my everyday work!

Alan H. Brock, RDR, CRR, is a freelance reporter from Boston, Mass.



Annemarie Roketenetz is NCRA’s Assistant Director of Communications. She is the sta­ff liaison to the Contests Committee. She can be reached at

Read more about the history of the speed and realtime contests, as well as the rules, at This year, the Speed Contest will be held Wednesday, Aug. 3, starting at 9 a.m. CT, and the Realtime Contest will be held Thursday, Aug. 4, starting at 1 p.m. There is an optional practice session held for competitors on Tuesday, Aug. 2, starting at 3 p.m., and the competitors often meet up for a dinner at a local restaurant on Tuesday evening.

People interested in registering for these events should do so early, as spaces are limited. Spectators are permitted for the Speed and Realtime Contests.

Save the date for great NCRA learning opportunities

Photo by: Dafne Cholet

NCRA staff members are planning great ways for members to earn CEUs this year. NCRA members can also earn CEUs by passing the skills or written portion of certain tests, such as the RMR, RDR, CRR, or CLVS exams. Here is a short selection of dates and events (dates are subject to change).

Jan. 31             Cycle extension deadline

March 11-13   CLVS Seminar and CLVS production skills test, Reston, Va.

March 19-20   NCRA Board of Directors Meeting, Reston, Va.

March 20-22   2016 NCRA Legislative Boot Camp, Reston, Va.

April 4-20        RPR, RDR, CRC, and CLVS written knowledge test dates

April 17-19      2016 Firm Owners Executive Conference, San Juan, P.R.

July 9-21          RPR and CLVS written knowledge test dates

Aug. 4-7           2016 NCRA Convention & Expo, Chicago, Ill. (includes the Legal Video Conference, the CRC Workshop, and the National Speed and Realtime Contests)

Sept. 30           Submission deadline for CEUs and PDCs for members with a 9/30/16 cycle ending

Oct. 7-19         RPR, RDR, CRC, and CLVS written knowledge tests

Court Reporting & Captioning Week (Feb. 14-20), Memorial  Day (May 30), and Veterans Day (Nov. 11) are also all good opportunities to schedule Veterans History Project Days to earn PDCs. And don’t forget that online skills testing is available year round.

In addition, NCRA is planning webinars throughout the year, which will be announced in the JCR Weekly and on NCRA social media as they are available. Watch for more information in the JCR, the JCR Weekly, and on for registration, deadlines, and other ideas to earn continuing education.

Julianne LaBadia wins speed contest, Douglas Zweizig new realtime champ

Julianne LaBadia, RDR, CRR, CBC, CCP, from Dover, Del., is the winner of the 2015 Speed Contest, held on July 29 during the 2015 NCRA Convention & Expo in New York. LaBadia had an accuracy score of 99.912 percent with only three errors among the three legs. Her testimony transcript had no errors, an accomplishment she shared with second-place winner Jeffrey Weigl, RMR, CRR, CCP, from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. Weigl’s overall accuracy was 99.825 percent with a total of six errors. The third place winner was Donna Urlaub, RMR, CRR, from Chicago, Ill.

This year’s overall winner for the 2015 Realtime Contest was Douglas Zweizig, RDR, CRR, from Towson, Md. Zweizig had an accuracy of 99.411 percent with 13 errors. Second place went to Deanna Boenau, RDR, CRR, CBC, CCP, from Sarasota, Fla., with an accuracy of 98.556 percent with 32 errors. Along with second place in speed, Jeffrey Weigl took third in realtime overall, with an accuracy of 97.617 percent and a total of 52 errors. The Realtime Contest was held on July 30.

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.

See Speed Contest results here.

See Realtime Contest results here.