© 2022
Prairie Public NewsRoom
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations
Dakota Datebook

Steve Blehm, Basketball Star

 

On this date in 1971, a young man named Steve Blehm scored 85 points during the Ramsey County basketball tournament in Starkweather. That’s right, 85 points. Blehm was playing for the Devils Lake School for the Deaf, which beat Hampden 122 to 22.

 

During his high school career, Blehm scored 3,859 points – a state record that may never be broken. But that's not his only record. His 4-year average of 41.5 points per game was a national high school record, as was his 35.8 average during his freshman year.

 

In his sophomore year he established another record, averaging more than 47 points per game – the highest-ever average for a sophomore.

 

Blehm was unstoppable in all facets of the game, whether it was field goals, rebounds or free throws. In his four years with the School for the Deaf, he made 827 points from free throws alone. He once made 17 free throws in one game. And it wasn’t that he was exceptionally tall. At a modest 5’11”, he still managed a total of 1,352 rebounds while in high school.

 

Blehm probably would have risen to the top of his game no matter what, but he did overcome some challenges, having lost his hearing during childhood when a now-banned medicine was prescribed for an ear infection.

 

Radio broadcaster Lee Halvorson called Blehm one of the most mature young men he'd ever run into. Halvorson used to do the play-by-play for KDLR in Devils Lake. He recalled an opposition coach saying they could win if they could hold Blehm to 40 points, but Blehm went out and scored 56.

 

After high school, Blehm went to Minot State for a semester, then transferred to Gallaudet University in Washington D.C. There, he was MVP in 1976 and ‘77, and in 1978, was named Gallaudet’s Athlete of the Year. He also won a gold medal at the World Games for the Deaf in Romania.

 

Blehm wasn’t perfect. Coach Brenner had to call in his 4th grade son, Terry, to help Blehm pack his equipment. “He was my idol, no question,” Terry said. “(But, he) would forget this shoes or his jersey or his athletic supporter. Most people would loan him things – except the athletic supporter.”

 

Steven was married to Linda Blehm (now deceased). They raised three daughters, Vera, Maggie, and Sarah. He lives in Virginia, where he works for the United States Postal Service. In 2018 he was named Deaf Father of the Year by the Virginia Association of the Deaf.

 

Dakota Datebook written by Merry Helm

Related Content