Stenographer having fun with her shining moment at NCAA tournament

March 27, 2015


One of the biggest stars of the NCAA tournament West regional hasn't even scored a basket or cheered from the bench. 

But she scored the attention of college basketball players for her proficiency at her job. 

Meet Debra Bollman. The stenographer caught the attention of Wisconsin players on the interview podium as she was typing upwards of 300 words per minute for interview transcripts.

Nigel Hayes whispered to a teammate "she's beautiful," not realizing Bollman's headphones are piped into all of the microphones or that reporters could hear, too. 

Bollman smiled and reporters laughed, and Hayes realized his comment was heard by all. And, of course, it went viral. 

The 43-year-old mom of three was flattered.

"It was just funny," Bollman said. "I never knew it would take on the nature that it has. It's taken on a life of its own. I thought it was cute and sweet at the time. My son is 21. He has no idea. It's been good face cream over the years. I never thought it would turn into more than just a moment."

Bollman, who lives in the Inland SoCal suburb of Corona, is engaged to Anthony Farfan. They had a fun time with the comment. 

"He was glad that other people saw the beauty in me that he sees," Bollman said. "But maybe there was a little ..."

Bollman laughed, but she felt bad because Hayes tweeted her an apology Thursday night, which she saw Friday morning. 

"I haven't talked to him," Bollman said. "He tweeted an apology to me this morning. He didn't need to do that. It wasn't inappropriate, what he said." 

Hayes was low-key in Friday's interview session and didn't use any big words to try to trick Bollman. 

He tweeted Bollman: "Apologies to @debrabollman for "accidentally" verbalizing her pulchritude. I meant no disrespect ma'am. #contrite."

Bollman said it was unnecessary since he did nothing wrong. Asked what she would say to Hayes if she had a chance to talk to him, Bollman said: "I'd just give him a hug and say 'You're sweet. You made my day. Thanks for the moment,' " Bollman said. 

Hayes and other players have tried to stump stenographers with big words. Hayes worked in "syzygy" recently. 

"Oh, God. It's fun. It's old hat at this point," Bollman said. "I think it's fun when a younger person does it. It shows they're engaged and playful. (Hayes) is obviously an intelligent young man who is looking for some words to stump us. We always get it. We're pros."

You could tell Arizona's Stanley Johnson was talking about Bollman, although it wasn't picked up, during Friday's press conference before tomorrow's Elite Eight matchup with Wisconsin. He was impressed with her work.

"I've been seeing her with those headphones on, and I wondered if she's listening to music," Johnson said. "She's typing as fast as I'm talking. I can't even text that fast."

Bollman is always on the go. She has precious little time in March Madness to plan a wedding with all of her work for her other gig as a real estate agent. Bollman said she's closed on five houses in the Inland Empire this month. She also does stenography from home, where this week she's working on cricket transcripts for an event that's being held in New Zealand.

She's trying to keep up with the buzz from social media as well. 

"Are you freaking kidding me?" Bollman asked. "This is so crazy."

She's went to the FOX studios in Los Angeles on Friday morning to tape an interview and she was on "Inside Edition" a day earlier. 

Asked what the biggest misconception about stenographers is, Bollman said: "That we're uptight. There's a look that people expect and sort of a frumpy, uptight man or woman. You see them on TV, what do they look like? They're older and they're in suits. I think I'm fun."

Bollman likes fashion and on Friday she wore a grey shirt, white pants and tan Vince Camuto heels. Frumpy she is not. 

She's all the rage now, so much so that her 16-year-old daughter, Sophia, is asking how her mom's getting all this attention when she's the lead singer of a band, Detour 91. 

Her 19-year-old daughter, Saylor, told her mom: "I don't know how you do it. I can't even get out of a speeding ticket."

And her son, Simeon, is a student at River State College in Florida. 

Bollman has something in common with the basketball players who have been interested in her work.

"They want to be the best at what they do, and I want to be the best at what I do," Bollman said. "For stenography, the most important thing is being accurate. Always on time. Get the job done. Get the job done right without any issues. Provide a clean transcript. No errors. And quickly."

Players have shined a light on stenographers and made Bollman and her colleagues' job, for which they attend court reporting school, cool.

Asked what Bollman wished people knew about stenographers, she said: "We also provide a service for the hard of hearing. The NCAA has created a new program where it's streaming our text live and it's coming up on YouTube on the picture and it's actually syncing up. There's like a 3-second delay. So it's really neat. We're able to provide a service not just to the journalists in house but for those people at home who are deaf and hard of hearing who can have access now to everything that's going on live in the interview room. That's kind of cool."

Bollman will be back Saturday, typing her 285 words per minute from Arizona and Wisconsin's coaches and players. One team will be headed to the Final Four, and the other team's season will end. 

Her emotions sometimes mimic those of the players.

"In a courtroom it's serious, but I think here it's a little different," Bollman said. "If the audience laughs, I'll laugh."

And whether it's basketball or stenography, who doesn't like to have fun at work?