April 22, 2024

Stenographer passes along experience to DMACC students

Christy had brush with fame in NCAA tourney

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Newton students in DMACC’s court reporting program have heard from guest speakers before, but Thursday’s presentation was unique.

The students at DMACC, who are enrolled in the only court reporting program in Iowa, heard from Toni Christy, an Iowa native who took stenography classes at AIB years ago while living in Adel. She’s gone on to work for ASAP Sports, and she’s typed out text onto a screen at all types of events over the past several years, from Major League Baseball to the NBA.

The main story Christy related to the 30 listeners in her classroom talk Thursday was about her “15 minutes of fame.” Wisconsin men’s basketball player Nigel Hayes singled her out during a press conference at NCAA tournament games in Omaha in March, then later came over to see how her stenography machine worked.

“I didn’t pay much attention to the players, even after they leaped chairs to see how the machine works,” Christy said. “I figured they would get bored with it quickly. But then, the next thing I knew, I looked up, there were media photographers and the coach (Bo Ryan) gathered all around.”

The moment was captured by a Wisconsin TV station, as well as video and photos posted to the Badgers’ official social media pages, and she was later the focus of an ESPN feature story. Christy was soon deluged by contacts from family, friends and colleagues, teasing her about how she had “gone viral.”

Christy told this story to students who are in a program DMACC picked up just as AIB was shutting its court reporting program down prior to the closure of the school. An eight-quarter court reporter training program began at DMACC Newton in the fall of 2014 with eight students, but there were 28 students signed up to begin the program this fall.

The stenographer went on to detail how her career unfolded and some of the highlights. At a recent New York City conference, she said, she looked around the room and realized she was among some of the most talented, well-known people in her industry.

She talked about building and maintaining “dictionaries” of names and terms unique to a regularly-worked subject area, team or place. For example, she works St. Louis Cardinals games on a regular basis, so she maintains players’ names in the dictionary, and removes former players or coaches not mentioned much anymore, such as Albert Pujols.

Christy said knowing which terms and names are in a stenographer's dictionaries — and which ones aren't — are important components of being effective. Her audition with ASAP Sport was to supply text to the audio of an NFL coach who was talking about a colleague, Marty Schottenheimer.

“I knew ‘Schottenheimer’ wasn’t in my dictionary,” she said, laughing. “But I fingerspelled it, and fingerspelling is a skill we still need to have.”

Christy said the support of her husband, Kevin, has been essential for her travel-heavy career to be successful. She said her advice for the predominantly-young, nearly-all-female group of students was simple: keep improving and relax.

“I used to have a little note to myself, taped to my machine, that said ‘breathe,’” Christy said. “Just get the words down, and keep working hard to get better.”

The ESPN feature about Christy can be found at es.pn/19qOXIL

Contact Jason W. Brooks at 641-792-3121 ext. 6532 or jbrooks@newtondailynews.com