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Making transcripts court to court

Tue., April 1, 2008

As part of a cost-cutting move by the federal government several years back, U.S. District Court reporters were asked if they might be willing to cut their hours by 10 percent.

Mark Snover said no.

“I told them I wouldn’t do 10 percent,” recalled Snover, who has been recording federal court proceedings here for the past 17 years, “but I said I’d sure do 20.

“They were just thrilled.”

And so was Snover, who used his voluntary cutback to free up more time to travel the world, transcribing press conference comments from competitors at some of the most prestigious sporting events.

Snover, 47, whose transcriptions are used by sportswriters, just recorded four days of press conferences held in conjunction with the 2008 NCAA Women’s Basketball regional at the Spokane Arena.

On Sunday, he leaves for Georgia, where he will do the same at The Masters golf tournament, which begins April 10 at Augusta National Golf Club.

“It’s been a dream job because I really love sports,” said Snover, a Michigan native who moved to Spokane from Wenatchee in 1991 at the request of U.S. District Court Judge Fred Van Sickle.

Snover had been working under Van Sickle in Chelan/Douglas Counties Superior Court prior to Van Sickle’s appointment to the U.S. District Court of Eastern Washington.

“When he became a federal judge and got appointed to Spokane, he asked me to come with him,” Snover explained. “I told him I’d love to, because I liked the idea of living in a bigger city, and I’d always liked Spokane.”

It wasn’t until 2000, however, that Snover’s court reporting talents first allowed him to get involved with sports in a way he never imagined. An avid golfer, he received a midsummer phone call that year from a friend and fellow court reporter, who informed him she was at the U.S. Open golf tournament in Pebble Beach, Calif., making transcripts of player interviews.

“I told her that was the greatest thing I had ever heard of,” Snover recalled, “and said if she needed someone to carry her bags to let me know.”

The following summer, that same friend invited him to join her at the 2001 U.S. Open at Southern Hills Country Club in Tulsa, Okla., to help transcribe player comments. Since then, Snover has worked part time for ASAP Sports, a company that contracts to produce verbatim transcripts of press conferences and team and player interviews at sporting events around the globe.

Next week’s trip to The Masters will be his fourth, and he has also worked press rooms at the British Open, PGA Championship and 2004 Ryder Cup at Oakland Hills Country Club in Bloomington, Mich. He has worked three Super Bowls and the last five NCAA Women’s Basketball Final Fours.

In addition, he and his wife, Joan, whom he met at a National Association of Court Reporters leadership conference in Washington, D.C., have traveled to Sweden to work the 2003 Solheim Cup and to Spain for a major tennis event.

Snover’s wife was working as a court reporter in Boston when they first met, but the two did not become seriously involved until the following year when he was assigned to a high-profile product liability case in Spokane.

“They wanted transcripts from the trial every day,” Snover recalled, “and nobody here in town wanted to help me. So I called her back in Boston said, ‘Look, I’ve got this four-month trial coming up. We can make a whole bunch of money, so why don’t you come out?’ “

His future wife took him up on the offer.

“We worked together and had lunch and dinner together nearly every day for four months,” Snover recalled. “The trial started in April and ended in July, and by that September she was packing her stuff and moving back out here to Spokane.”

The two were married in December 1994 and have been assisting each other at sporting events ever since.

Snover’s first trip to The Masters back in 2002 still ranks among his favorite memories.

“I play a lot of golf myself, and seeing Augusta National for the first time was pretty awe-inspiring,” he said. “It was just flat-out beautiful – and Tiger (Woods) won, too, so that was pretty cool.”

But Snover insists the best part about his job with ASAP Sports is hearing from appreciative sportswriters who, instead of spending 45 minutes transcribing press conference comments off their own voice recorders, can pick up a printed copy of the question-and- answer session less than 15 minutes after it ends.

“In court, lawyers are always wanting transcripts, and when they get them, they don’t care,” Snover explained. “They’re more worried about how much it’s going to cost, so it’s no big deal to them. But when you go to sporting events, sportswriters are all the time coming and saying, ‘Thanks so much. We love having you here. It makes everything so much easier.’

“It’s nice when you get some props.”


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