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

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.

The secrets of the locals in Las Vegas

By Kevin Daniel

We have a saying in Vegas: What happens in Vegas … shows up on Facebook. No doubt many of the 2017 NCRA Convention & Expo activities will find their way to Facebook, but in a good way, I’m sure.

As a resident of Las Vegas for the last 16 years, I’m in an exceptional position to suggest some extracurricular activities for Convention attendees. As any Las Vegan can attest, we are all regularly pressed into service as tour guides for family and friends. And this year NCRA asked for some tour advice. I had only one condition: If I’m being asked to be the tour guide, then I get to include my personal — sometimes quirky — favorites on the tour.

Seeing the stars

So let’s start with what Vegas is partly famous for: our headliners and in-residence performers. Celine Dion, Britney Spears, eight or nine Cirques, along with 10 magicians and five mentalists are here, to name just a few. Rather than spend time describing a myriad of options for entertainment, I will refer you to the website This is where I go when I want the latest information on what’s available to see and do in Las Vegas, and it will be more current than anything I could list here. If you’re flexible, there are several Tix Tonight kiosks along the Strip where discounts are available for some shows the same day.

My personal favorite in this category is influenced by my interest in magic as a hobby. Over my 16 years in Vegas, I have seen most of the magicians who have performed here, and my favorite show is Mac King. His afternoon shows are at 1 and 3 p.m. at Harrah’s Casino, and his show is appropriate for all ages. It is dark on Sundays and Mondays.

Dining with a view

In case you haven’t been to Las Vegas in a while, you should know that we now have some of the finest restaurants in the world. Do your research before coming, and you can find the perfect restaurant limited only by your budget. I’m suggesting three restaurants that offer fine dining with some of the best views.

Hands down, the Top of the World Restaurant at the Stratosphere has the best view, with a rotating restaurant 800 feet high.

Next is the Eiffel Tower Restaurant at Paris. From its perch over the Strip, it affords one of the best views of the Bellagio Fountains dancing every 15-30 minutes.

My last suggestion for a nice dinner with a Vegas-only view is Oscar’s Restaurant in Downtown Las Vegas. A former Las Vegas mayor, Oscar Goodman, opened his restaurant in the Plaza Casino at the end of the famous Fremont Street canopy in Downtown Las Vegas.

If food is your passion and the view doesn’t matter to you, there are Foodie Tours and Gourmet Walking Tours so you can sample dishes from multiple restaurants over one evening.

In the food category, my tastes are rather simple: Find the best hamburger and shakes in town. For my money, I like Holstein’s restaurant in the Cosmopolitan. They have a wide selection of burgers and shakes with a full bar to slake your thirst while you wait to be seated.

Thrill seekers

If extreme experiences are your thing, Vegas has a few exceptional hair-raising opportunities. There is the High Roller Ferris wheel at the end of The Linq shopping area on the Strip, just south of the Flamingo Casino. It is a 30-minute ride, with a 540-foot high view of the Strip at the top. Pods with onboard bars are available for the insatiable partiers among us. You know who you are.

There are two major zip lines in Vegas, one between the two towers of the Rio Casino, and two versions of zip lines running the length of the lighted canopy on Fremont Street in Downtown Las Vegas.

And for the adrenalin junkie, look no further than the Stratosphere’s five rides. At the extreme end of extreme experiences in Vegas, there is SkyJump, an 829-foot, 40-mile-an-hour free fall from the deck of the Stratosphere. Bring a change of underwear.

As a former roller coaster enthusiast, I highly recommend driving 20 miles south to Primm, Nevada, to Buffalo Bill’s Casino (featured in the Showtime series “Ray Donovan”), home of The Desperado roller coaster. It’s in my top 10 coasters, nationwide.

513D308D-3E6B-4085-ADFF-310B2B293AEFSightseeing in and around Las Vegas

For getting around Vegas, consider open-air buses with on-and-off privileges, cabs, Uber, and Lyft. The best place to catch a cab in Vegas is to go to the taxi station at any casino’s main entrance. Taxis are not permitted to stop and pick up passengers along the Strip. There is a monorail that services most of the Strip. Buy the day pass if you plan to use it at all. However, the monorail does not service the airport or Downtown Las Vegas.

There are helicopter tours of the Hoover Dam and Bypass, the Grand Canyon, and both day and night tours of the Strip. If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend the hour-long drive to Hoover Dam. It is now even easier to see the dam than ever before. In 2010, the Hoover Dam Bypass was completed, and you can park a short walk from the bridge and walk the entire one-mile length of the bridge if you like, offering the best views of the Dam.

Kevin Daniel in the electric chair at the Mob Museum

Kevin Daniel in the electric chair at the Mob Museum

Only-in-Vegas museums

At 300 Stewart Avenue, one block off Fremont Street, you will find the Mob Museum, containing such artifacts as the actual Chicago St. Valentine’s Day Massacre wall, complete with bullet holes; a real (non-functioning) electric chair; and many priceless pieces from the time when the Mob ran Vegas. This former Federal Courthouse and post office contains a courtroom where some of the historic Kefauver hearings were held.

I may be the only one who cares about the following attraction, but if you’re a fan of pinball games, you won’t want to miss the Pinball Hall of Fame. Within its 10,000-square-foot warehouse, you will find hundreds of pinball machines dating from the 1950s to the 1990s. And except for rotating repair and maintenance, all of the machines are playable. It’s a cab ride from anywhere, located at 1610 E. Tropicana Avenue.

neon.boneyard.las_.vegas_And, of course, I saved the best for last: The Neon Boneyard. If you remember the classic neon signs from Vegas of the past, this museum is a walk down memory lane. Many of the signs were salvaged, stored, and some restored in this outdoor stroll through the Boneyard. Available only by booking ahead of time, you can take day or night tours or photo tours, or book weddings and other “special events.” Dates and times are filled well in advance, so if you would like to take this tour, consider booking soon.

Two special venues

There are more live entertainment theaters in Las Vegas than I can count, but I couldn’t close this article without mentioning two special venues and attractions available at the time of NCRA’s Convention. The first is a concert by Lady Gaga on Aug. 11 at our new arena, T-Mobile Arena, on the Strip. I’ve attended dozens of live concerts in Las Vegas, and far and away, the sound here is the best in Vegas. I’m certain Lady Gaga is sold out, but if you’re willing to deal with online scalpers, I’m sure tickets can be found.

A hidden community treasure is our 5-year-old performing arts center, The Smith Center. Our 2,000-seat main theater is one of the newest and nicest in the United States, and our Broadway musical series has a play running the week of our Convention. The play is titled “Something Rotten,” and information about the play and tickets can be found at

I hope my suggestions start you thinking about your visit to Vegas this summer. While the temperatures may exceed 110 degrees on the Strip in the summer, you should bring a sweater for the seminars and casinos in general. Start your day with a bottle of water to stay ahead of dehydration. It’s a constant concern in Las Vegas in the summer. And any time you are making plans where specific arrival times are important, such as dinner or a show, allow at least double the travel time you think is necessary. Visitors to Las Vegas are always amazed at the time it takes to walk or cab to another location.

Now you know some of the secrets of the locals in Las Vegas. Welcome to my Las Vegas.


Kevin Daniel, FAPR, RDR, CRR, CRC, is a freelancer in Las Vegas, Nev. He can be reached at

Free breakfast included with your 2017 Convention & Expo registration when you book your stay with Planet Hollywood

Breakfast plate with eggs, bacon, sausage, pancakes, a waffle, and a chocolate-covere strawberry

By Janine (Uploaded by Fæ)

Book a room at the Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino by June 4 and free breakfast will be included with your convention registration. Planet Hollywood is the host hotel for the 2017 NCRA Convention & Expo in Las Vegas, Nev. Getting free breakfasts by staying at the official hotel during this year’s convention, Aug. 10-13, means an additional $75 value on top of the special room rates secured by NCRA.

There are even more ways to stay to play in Vegas. Attendees who register now to stay in the Convention room block at Planet Hollywood will be automatically entered to win one of two full refunds of their entire registration to the event. Also, attendees who register to stay at Planet Hollywood on Friday and Saturday nights are eligible to win one of six new Kindle Fire tablets in a giveaway.

In addition, attendees of the 2017 event will experience a Premier Session like no other NCRA has ever offered, when keynote speaker and Las Vegas icon Steve Wyrick, known as the Daredevil Magician, will motivate the audience as he shares personal insights to his success sprinkled with a touch of magic.

Other highlights of the 2017 Convention & Expo include the installation of NCRA’s 2017-2018 Board of Directors, the winner of the Distinguished Service Award, the results of the national Speed and Realtime Contests, the announcement of scholarship and grant recipients, and top-notch speakers addressing the topics and issues relevant to today’s court reporters, captioners, legal videographers, students, and school officials.

Register now to experience the magic of the NCRA Convention & Expo and these special savings on room and registration costs before the chance disappears. Visit NCRAorg/meetings to register now.

Convention keynote speaker will help you create magic at your fingertips

NCRA has announced that Steve Wyrick, known as the Daredevil Magician, will present a motivational speech during its Premier Session on Friday as part of the 2017 NCRA Convention & Expo being held Aug. 10-13 in Las Vegas, Nev. Wyrick’s speech will connect the themes of magic at your fingertips with the passion so many court reporters, captioners, and legal videographers have in the profession. Attendees should plan to “leave with the realization that the answers to each of our lives exist within the magic we all possess,” says Wyrick of the session.

Photo of Steve Wyrick (daredevil * magician * TV reality star) in front of a sports carWyrick, who is passionate about magic, explains: “Every person needs as much magic in their life as possible. I experience magic every day. In fact, magic is all around us if we just open our eyes and our hearts. I am fortunate enough to be able to share my secret with my audiences how to recognize the magic and little miracles that happen all around us every day.”

Wyrick is a Las Vegas icon and headline entertainer who has performed for kings, queens, and presidents. Throughout the years, Wyrick has won many awards in magic, including the International Brotherhood of Magicians and the Society of American Magicians. More recently, the International Magician’s Society, the largest magic organization in the world, bestowed on him the Merlin Award for “Magician of the Year.”

Wyrick’s appearance at the NCRA Convention seeks to help attendees find the magic in their own lives and help them visualize their dreams and make them reality. “I have always been able to visualize the impossible. I believe you must be able to see your dreams in order for them to become reality,” says Wyrick. “I’m excited to share a few simple secrets and beliefs that I have developed and utilized in my life over the years. This process can be followed and applied by anyone to pursue their dreams. It is possible to live your dream.”

The session promises to reinspire in attendees a passion for the profession, reminding them that they have the magic at their fingertips. “I have found that there are few things in life that are truly impossible to accomplish if you decide, dedicate, and choose to do them,” says Wyrick. “The most fulfilling reward is to see the look on the faces of people from 9 to 99 years old captivated by my magic and illusion through the power of compelling storytelling.”

The Premier Session will also feature the announcement of the winner of NCRA’s Distinguished Service Award and the installation of the 2017-2018 NCRA Board of Directors. Register now.

Make your Convention & Expo magic by staying at the Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino

Planet Hollywood on the Las Vegas Strip

Photo by Wikimedia Commons

NCRA members attending the 2017 NCRA Convention & Expo in Las Vegas, Nev., are reminded that, by booking their stay at Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino, they not only receive a specially negotiated room rate as well as a lower daily resort fee in a four-star hotel but they are also supporting their Association.

When NCRA negotiates special room rates at hotels serving as the host site of its meetings, it also is able to secure valuable savings on meeting rooms and exhibit space. Such negotiations are standard practice in the association-meeting world. Another standard practice is that the hotel negotiates that the group holding the event is responsible to incur the costs of any unreserved rooms. The reason is simple. When hotels negotiate with groups for sleeping and meeting space, the sleeping rooms are held in a block, which means they are not made available to other guests. Rooms unfilled in a hotel’s room block can often create a financial burden on the organization holding the event because the hotel’s loss is commonly passed along to the hosting organization, and that, in turn, typically causes the costs of future events to increase.

Great savings on a four-star hotel is just one major benefit to staying in a host hotel when attending an event. Other benefits include convenient access to meeting rooms, the expo site, networking opportunities, and a guest’s reserved room. For the Planet Hollywood venue, guests will also enjoy the convenience of nearby shopping, top-rated restaurants, spas, and more.

The bottom line is that staying at the conference hotel gives attendees a better conference experience and helps keep registration rates low. Do your part to support NCRA and to help ensure costs of future events are kept at the lowest rate possible, not just for you, but for others in your profession who also attend them.

“NCRA is committed to supporting its members by providing the best value possible. One such member benefit includes lower lodging rates and registration fees related to annual events,” said NCRA President-elect Chris Willette, RDR, CRR, CRC. “We appreciate our members who are committed to supporting their Association by taking advantage of the special room rates negotiated on their behalf with Planet Hollywood. The 2017 Convention & Expo — ‘Magic at Your Fingertips!’— is sure to be an exciting and fun-filled event.”

Top five reasons to stay at the Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino during the 2017 NCRA Convention & Expo

  • 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.
  • Organic networking opportunities — There are always convention attendees in the lobby, at the coffee shop, or in one of the several restaurants located in Planet Hollywood, providing additional chances for networking outside of scheduled events.
  • Fast commutes — Staying at Planet Hollywood means a quicker trip to meeting rooms and networking venues as well as the ability to zip back to your room for a quick break without missing all the magic the convention has to offer.
  • More time on the expo floor — Attendees who stay at Planet Hollywood will spend less time walking or taxiing to off-site lodging locations and more time on the expo floor.
  • Shopping and dining at your fingertips — Planet Hollywood offers its guests easy access to top-rated restaurants and exciting shops all under one roof.

Book your hotel and register now.

Experience the magic of Las Vegas at the NCRA Convention & Expo

Convention_FB_cover photoCatch the magic of savings by registering now for the 2017 NCRA Convention & Expo being held Aug. 10-13 in Las Vegas, Nev. Register by July 4 and take advantage of special rates negotiated for hotel rooms at the Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino, the official Convention hotel, and on registration fees for the event. After July 4, the savings on both rooms and registration fees will disappear as rates go up.

The NCRA Convention & Expo is the once-a-year largest gathering of members, court reporting students, teachers, school administrators, legal videographers, and vendors serving the profession and the 2017 event will be no exception. Experience a Premier Session like no other NCRA has ever offered at this year’s Convention, happening in one of the most exciting venues ever.

Attendees who register now to stay in the discounted Convention room block at Planet Hollywood will be automatically entered to win one of two full refunds of their entire registration to the event. In addition, attendees who register to stay at Planet Hollywood on Friday and Saturday nights are eligible to win one of six new Kindle Fire tablets in a giveaway.

Register now to experience the magic of the NCRA Convention & Expo and the special savings on room and registration costs before the chance vanishes.

2017 class of Fellows of the Academy of Professional Reporters announced

NCRA has announced the 2017 class of Fellows of the Academy of Professional Reporters. The recipients will be recognized during an Awards Luncheon at the 2017 NCRA Convention & Expo in Las Vegas, Nev., being held Aug. 10-13.

The 2017 class of Fellows are:

  • Jan Ballman, RPR, CMRS, a firm owner in Minneapolis, Minn.
  • Jana Colter, RMR, CRR, CRC, a CART captioner from Atlanta, Ga.
  • Judith Lehman, RMR, CRI, an official from Shelbyville, Ill.
  • Philip Marrone, RMR, CRR, an official from Pittsburgh, Pa.
  • Sarah Nageotte, RDR, CRR, CRC, an official from Jefferson, Ohio
  • Breck Record, RMR, CRR, CRI, an official from Midland, Texas
  • Doreen Sutton, RPR, a firm owner from Scottsdale, Ariz.

“Receiving the distinction of Fellow was one of  the high points of my career,” said NCRA President Tiva Wood, FAPR, RDR, CMRS, a freelance court reporter from Mechanicsburg, Pa. “I am excited that NCRA is recognizing these extraordinary members for their contributions, which include publishing important papers, serving on committees or boards, teaching the next generation of court reporters and captioners, and other efforts. All of the candidates must have been active in the practice of reporting for at least 10 years and been nominated by their peers.”

Fellowship in the Academy of Professional Reporters is a professional distinction conferred upon a person with outstanding and extraordinary qualifications and experience in the field of shorthand reporting. Candidates for Fellows are required to have been in the active practice of reporting for at least 10 years and to have attained distinction as measured by performance (which includes publication of important papers, creative contributions, and service on committees or boards, teaching, and other activities that support the profession).

The magic is at your fingertips

Join hundreds of NCRA members, court reporting students, teachers, and school administrators in Las Vegas, Nev., for the 2017 NCRA Convention & Expo, Aug. 10-13.

Registration is now open for the 2017 NCRA Convention & Expo being held Aug. 10-13 at Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas, Nev. Members can take advantage of special rates negotiated for their stay at the Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino, the official hotel of the 2017 NCRA Convention & Expo.

  • Sunday, Aug. 6 – Thursday, Aug. 10: $109 per night
  • Friday, Aug. 11 – Saturday, Aug. 12: $199 per night

Each year, Convention attendees note the many conveniences and benefits of staying at the event’s host hotel, including easy access to the Expo Hall and meeting spaces. This year’s host hotel promises the same and much more. Being connected to the Miracle Mile, guests of Planet Hollywood will also enjoy immediate access to some of the best dining, entertainment, and shopping opportunities that Las Vegas has to offer.

In addition, NCRA members who book their stays at Planet Hollywood & Casino also have a significant impact on helping to keep lodging and event costs down for future conventions by ensuring the Association meets its room block.

Con collage

“NCRA is committed to supporting its members by providing the best value possible. One such member benefit includes lower lodging rates and registration fees related to annual events,” said Chris Willette, RDR, CRR, CRC, NCRA President-elect. “We appreciate our members who are committed to supporting their Association by taking advantage of the special room rates negotiated on their behalf with Planet Hollywood. The 2017 Convention & Expo — ‘Magic at Your Fingertips!’ — is sure to be an exciting and fun-filled event.”

As always, the Convention schedule is jam-packed with educational sessions, the latest in new products and services showcased on the Expo Hall floor, and an array of networking opportunities that can’t be found anywhere else.

NCRA’s Education Content Committee has planned a series of carefully curated sessions to support the growth of every reporter and captioner, featuring can’t-miss sessions on business, captioning, judicial reporting, realtime, and technology. There will also be specialized programs, including the student seminar, Teachers Workshop, and the Certified Realtime Captioner Workshop. In addition, Margie Wakeman Wells, CRI, will again present her Punctuation Workshop.

The Convention will also feature a number of networking opportunities that will help attendees make contacts with fellow professionals from across the country and around the world. Networking sessions include:

  • the Opening Reception on Thursday evening
  • Friday morning’s Premier Session
  • the Saturday Awards Luncheon
  • the President’s Party on Saturday night

Attendees can also participate in the governance of the association by attending the Annual Business Meeting held on Thursday, where members can offer their opinions on the direction of the association and ask questions of the board members.

For more information or to register, visit

Other highlights:

  • Engage in some lively competition with the national Speed and Realtime Contests, or just come to watch some of the top reporters in the world battle it out for the trophy. (The winners are announced during the Awards Luncheon along with other distinguished guests.)
  • Participate in the governance of your Association at the Annual Business Meeting, where members can offer their opinions on the direction of the Association and ask questions of the Board members.
  • Don’t miss this year’s Premier Session. The Premier Session includes the installation of NCRA’s incoming Board of Directors, the announcements of NCRA’s Distinguished Service Award recipient (the Association’s highest honor) and NCRA’s Educator of the Year, and — of course — the keynote. This year our keynote is big — think Vegas, think positivity, think about the magic that is at your fingertips every day.
  • Find out what’s happening in each of the states during the National Committee of State Associations meeting. State leaders use this time to exchange information about the latest legislative and other issues affecting court reporting and captioning professionals.

2017 NCRA Convention & Expo student track sessions

Steno Speed Dating

Here is your chance to have a face-to-face conversation with a court reporter or CART or broadcast captioner in a round of Steno Speed Dating. You’ll have 15 minutes with each representative to ask the questions you’ve always wondered about. Ever wondered how a speed champ writes like the wind? How does a reporter get a witness to stop interrupting? Do captioners really wear their pajamas to work? How on earth do you prep to provide CART for a Computer Science 225: Pseudorandomness class?

This will be the perfect time to find out what keeps these professionals motivated and passionate, and what it takes to compete at high-speed levels while still maintaining their daily jobs as a court reporter or CART or broadcast captioner .

Presenters: Dee Boenau, FAPR, RDR, CRR, CRC; Jo Ann Bryce, RMR, CRR; Linda Christensen, RMR, CRR, CRC; Rich Germosen, RMR, CRR; Cheryl Haab, RPR; Melanie Humphrey-Sonntag, FAPR, RDR, CRR, CRC; Stanley Sakai, CRC; Jennifer Schuck, FAPR, RDR, CRR, CRC; Joe Strickland, RPR, CRR, CRC; and Doug Zweizig. RDR, CRR


Business of Being a Reporter

School may have prepared you to take down testimony, but what does it really look like when you’re on that deposition or court case? How do you conduct yourself around attorneys, witnesses, or even the judge? What do you do when things get crazy, and you’re about to lose the record? What does it mean to mark an exhibit? What’s it look like when you’re hooked up for a realtime job? If you consider yourself a visual learner, then this is the session for you! Our professional reporters will demonstrate real-world scenarios in a mock setting to show you the ins and outs of what it’s like on an actual job — play-by-play commentary included!

Presenters: Michael Hensley, RPR; Charisse Kitt, RMR, CRI; Jessie Waack, RDR, CRR


How to Compete with Some of the Best

Join the Fabulous Fraziers and realtime champ Ron Cook to talk about how they prepare for the Speed and Realtime Contests and how this preparation can benefit your progress in school. Come get encouragement and learn some fun tips to help push you through your school journey.

Presenters: Ron Cook, FAPR, RDR, CRR, CRC; Chase Frazier, RMR, CRR, CRC; Clay Frazier, RMR, CRR; Tami Frazier, RMR, CRR


Online Skills Testing — See It for Yourself!

By now you’ve heard that NCRA skills tests have been moved online. But, what exactly does that mean and how does it affect you, if at all? No doubt, you have lots of questions, so let’s try to answer them. In this seminar, Marybeth Everhart will review the entire online testing process, from registration to completion — soup to nuts, you might say.

What equipment will you need? Where can you test? Who is ProctorU and how are they involved? For answers to these questions and more, you’ll want to attend this seminar!

Presenter: Marybeth Everhart, RPR, CRI


Read the speaker bios here.

2017 NCRA Convention & Expo student track speaker bios

The following reporters and captioners will be speaking as part of the student track at the 2017 NCRA Convention & Expo. The event will run Aug. 10-13 in Las Vegas, Nev.

Read the sessions descriptions here.

BoenauDee Boenau, FAPR, RDR, CRR, CRC

Dee Boenau is a realtime captioner and a convention reporter. She entered the profession in 1992 as a freelance deposition reporter and then entered the fields of realtime captioning in 1995 and convention reporting in 2000. Since 2001, she has won the Realtime Contest twice, placed 2nd six times, and 3rd three times. In addition, Boenau placed 2nd in the Intersteno Speech Capturing Competition in Paris in 2011 and 2nd in the NCRA Speed Contest in 2013.


Bryce 2014Jo Ann Bryce, RMR, CRR

Jo Ann Bryce has been a reporter for 42 years. She is a Registered Merit Reporter, Certified Realtime Reporter, California Certified Shorthand Reporter, and Federal Certified Realtime Reporter. She is currently an official reporter for the Northern District of California federal court in San Francisco. Bryce is a five-time National Realtime Champion, and at the 2014 NCRA Convention & Expo in San Francisco, she won both the National Speed and Realtime Contests. In total, she has five gold medals.


Linda S. Christensen, RMR, CRR, CRC

Linda S. Christensen is a graduate of Stenotype Institute of South Dakota. She lived 15 years in the beautiful state of Washington, enjoying life as both a freelancer and official. In 1998, she moved to the desert of Arizona and continued freelancing until 2007, when she transitioned into a varied career including CART, sports reporting, legal reporting, and transcribing. As a sports reporter, Christensen travels the world roughly 25 weeks a year covering professional tennis and golf events. She enjoys mentoring students and speaking at state seminars on the many different jobs within the fabulous skill of stenography. When Christensen is not tapping on her Luminex, you can find her in a botanical garden somewhere in the world or babying her own citrus trees and flowers in her Central Phoenix home and garden.


everhartMarybeth Everhart, RPR, CRI

Marybeth Everhart has been reporting since 1980 and writing realtime since 1992. She has been a freelance reporter in the Baltimore-Washington area; an official reporter in Brisbane, Australia; provided CART services to such organizations as Self Help for Hard of Hearing People and the Neurofibromatosis Foundation; captioned for Gallaudet University; managed a large, multi-office freelance firm; taught court reporting at all levels; and trained on numerous CAT systems over the years. She has been a certified advanced trainer for Eclipse since 1994 and has presented hundreds of seminars and trainings on dozens of Eclipse-related topics.

Everhart is now the national marketing manager for Realtime Coach and works closely with reporting schools, firms, and court systems to increase speed and improve accuracy for students and working reporters. She has served as a member of the NCRA Future Group, the NCRA Reporter Education Commission, the Council on Approved Student Education, and the Maryland Court Reporters Association Education Committee. Everhart currently serves as a contributing editor to the JCR (Journal of Court Reporting) and the Eclipse Users Group Newscache.


Frazier family

Left to right: Clay Frazier, Ron Cook, Tami Frazier, and Chase Frazier

Frazier Family: Tami Frazier, RMR, CRR; Clay Frazier, RMR, CRR; and Chase Frazier, RMR, CRR, CRC


Tami Frazier, proud mom of Clay and Chase Frazier, has been a court reporter in California Superior Court for 36 years. Her love for the profession helped convince Clay and Chase to become court reporters as well.

Clay has been a deposition reporter for eight years, and Chase has been a CART captioner for two years. All three love competing with each other in speed and realtime contests, which is where they met Ron Cook.

Ron Cook has been a deposition reporter for — well, if you ask Tami, since the steno dinosaurs roamed. (He occasionally gets her back by calling her “Mom.”) Cook owns his own deposition agency in Seattle, Washington. Cook won the 2016 NCRA Realtime Contest Q&A leg and was one error away from being crowned the 2016 NCRA Realtime Champion.


RichGermosenRich Germosen, RMR, CRR

Rich Germosen is a Certified Realtime Reporter with more than 24 years of experience covering high-end realtime assignments nationwide, especially in New York City, New Jersey, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C. He holds the NCRA Realtime Systems Administrator certificate. Germosen has consistently qualified in the NCRA National Speed and Realtime Competitions from 2012 through 2016. In 2016, Germosen also received a 3rd place medal in the Deposition Reporters Association Realtime Contest in the 190 wpm Q&A.


Haab2 (2)Cheryl Haab, RPR

Cheryl Haab is a freelance court reporter in Westminster, California. Originally from Canada, she migrated south in the year 2000 in search of a warmer climate and is now happy to call Orange County her home. Haab has served on the Board of Directors of the Deposition Reporters Association (DRA) since 2012, first as secretary-treasurer, followed by several terms as district director, vice president, and now president-elect.

Haab has served as chairperson of DRA’s Student Committee, and she currently serves in a consulting capacity on DRA’s legislative and financial committees, as well as being editor-in-chief of the association’s quarterly publication, the Deposition Reporter. She has also represented the DRA on the national level at several events across the country, including noteworthy leadership, legislative, and strategic planning conferences in Denver, Atlanta, San Francisco, and Washington, DC. She has had her writings published in the JCR (Journal of Court Reporting) and recently appeared in the award-winning court reporting documentary For the Record. Haab most recently served as co-chair of NCRA’s New Professional Committee. In August of 2015, Haab was the recipient of Bryan University’s first Alumni Award for Outstanding Career Achievement.


Hensley PicMike Hensley, RPR

Mike Hensley is a new reporter with one year of experience in handling deposition, arbitration, and court settings for live and teleconference communication methods. He has experience working with both boutique-style firms and international firms. He is currently serving on the NCRA New Professionals Committee.


Charisse Kitt_squareCharisse Kitt, RMR, CRI

Charisse Kitt has been a court reporter for 24 years. She has worked in the New York Supreme Court, the Eastern District of New York Federal Court, and Fulton County Superior Court (Atlanta, Georgia). Kitt is a Registered Merit Reporter, Certified Reporting Instructor, Certified Shorthand Reporter, and Federal Certified Realtime Reporter. Kitt currently serves as a board member for the New York State Court Reporters Association.


Stanley Sakai, CRC

Stanley Sakai is a 28 year-old Certified Realtime Captioner and Certified Shorthand Reporter from Seattle, Washington. He began teaching himself stenography as a faster way to take notes while obtaining his degree in linguistics from the University of Washington. In 2013, he relocated to New York City where he now lives and works as a freelance and CART captioner, offering realtime services in English and Spanish. Sakai is also a hobbyist programmer and uses his coding skills to contribute to projects like Aloft, a caption-streaming app he began in 2015, and Plover, an open-source steno translation engine. Sakai maintains an active Web presence, producing YouTube content and publishing blog posts about various steno-related topics.


Schuck Pic_squareJennifer Schuck, FAPR, RDR, CRR, CRC

Jennifer Schuck graduated from MacCormac College, Elmhurst, Illinois, in August 1993. She did judicial reporting until 2003. That fall, Schuck had the opportunity to receive training to become a captioner. In December, she left her freelance reporting position full time to start her transition into captioning. Currently, Schuck primarily provides on-site CART in the educational and corporate setting as well as travels for CART jobs. She provides remote CART and does some broadcast captioning as well. She has served as chairperson of the NCRA CART Community of Interest Committee, co-chair of the CART Ethics Taskforce, a member of the NCRA Realtime Certification Committee, and chair of the Arizona Court Reporters Association’s CART committee.

Some of her achievements include the Arizona Court Reporter Association’s Distinguished Service Award in 2012, the Hearing Loss Association of America’s Chapter Professional Award in 2011, and 4th place overall in the NCRA Realtime Competition. However, her highest achievement was placing 3rd in the realtime competition at the Intersteno Congress in Paris in 2011 and Budapest in 2015. Schuck was inducted as a Fellow of the Academy of Professional Reporters at the 2016 NCRA Convention & Expo in Chicago.


Sonntag2_squareMelanie Humphrey-Sonntag, FAPR, RDR, CRR, CRC

Melanie Humphrey-Sonntag has lived and breathed reporting since she discovered the profession as a junior in high school. It’s the only career she’s ever had, and in her more than 35 years of reporting, she has worked as an official, freelancer, firm owner, and occasional CART captioner. She’s a Registered Diplomate Reporter, Certified Realtime Reporter, Certified Realtime Captioner, and Fellow of NCRA’s Academy of Professional Reporters. She’s served on many committees and boards, including as president of the Wyoming, Colorado, and National Court Reporters Associations. She’s a perennial contestant in state and national speed and realtime contests, having placed as high as 2nd in NCRA’s Speed Contest on two occasions and won the Colorado and Illinois contests numerous times. She’s given seminars to students, reporters, vendors, and the public since 1993. She currently serves on the Advisory Board for MacCormac College, the nation’s oldest reporting program. In 2015, Humphrey-Sonntag transitioned to Planet Depos, an international reporting firm, and she’s now a full-time realtime reporter in their Chicagoland branch, where she loves interacting with attorneys in the field and reporting varied and interesting cases.


StricklandJoe Strickland, RPR, CRR, CRC

Joe Strickland has been a reporter since 1990. He was a closed captioner for KVIA in El Paso, Texas, and a freelance reporter in the Washington, D.C. area. In 1993, he joined the U.S. House of Representatives as an official reporter. During his 22 years with the House, he served as an official reporter to house committees, an official reporter of debates, deputy chief reporter, and 10 years as chief reporter, supervising a 43-member staff. He has reported the State of the Union addresses of Presidents Clinton, Bush, and Obama. Strickland retired from federal service in 2015 and is again a freelance reporter in Washington, D.C.


Waack Pic_squareJessie Waack, RDR, CRR

Jessie Waack has been a freelance reporter for 20 years. After graduating from Lakeshore Technical College in Cleveland, Wisconsin, she worked for 17 years in Milwaukee as a staff reporter. From there, she moved to San Francisco, California, for two years. After that, she moved to New York City where she has continued working as a freelance reporter and building her own clients. Waack has attained her Registered Diplomate Reporter, Certified Realtime Reporter, and Realtime System Administrator certifications. Waack also holds the California Certificate in Realtime Reporting, and the New Jersey Certified Court Reporter, New York Realtime Court Reporter, and New York Association Certified Reporter certifications.


ZweizigDoug Zweizig, RDR, CRR

A 1989 graduate of Central Pennsylvania Business School (now Central Pennsylvania College), Doug Zweizig earned his associate’s degree and moved from a small town to Philadelphia where he began work as a freelance court reporter. Initially covering car accidents and workers’ compensation matters, he later began covering medical malpractice, public hearings, etc. A limited amount of CART work was interspersed in those years, something he found most rewarding.

In 2001, Zweizig began as an official court reporter in the Court of Common Pleas in Philadelphia. He covered a wide range of work: drug cases, assaults, and especially homicide trials. On the civil side, he covered medical malpractice, mass tort pharmaceutical cases, construction, and discrimination. After many rewarding years there, he accepted a position in the United States District Court for the District of Maryland, where he’s currently working. There he handles criminal matters, including large drug conspiracies, racketeering, bank fraud, and occasionally a murder trial. On the civil side, he covers patent cases, maritime, discrimination, etc. Zweizig has several medals in speed and realtime contests, winning the National Realtime Contest in 2006 and 2015.