North Dakota Datebook
---"Steve Blehm, Basketball Star"
Prairie Public Television, North Dakota Public Television-January 27, 2005


On this day – or actually this night – 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 that night.
Steve Blehm was a phenomenal player, scoring 3,859 points during his high school career – that’s a state record that may never be broken. But it’s not his only record. His 4-year average of 41.5 points per game was a national highschool record, as was his 35.8 average during his freshman year. The following season, he racked up 1,134 points, averaging more than 47 points per game – the highest-ever average for any highschool sophomore. In fact, his “worst” performance that year was a measly 32-point game.
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. In fact, he once made 17 free throws in one game. And it wasn’t that he was tall, either. He was only 5'11", but still, he grabbed a total of 1,352 rebounds during his high school career.
If there’s one thing North Dakota history teaches us, it’s that the majority of our great heroes overcame great adversities on their way to the top. Blehm probably would have risen to the top of his game no matter what, but he did overcome some challenges along the way. He lost his hearing during childhood, when a now-banned medicine was prescribed for an ear infection. But – pardon the pun – Blehm rebounded. “I have never thought about my deafness being an obstacle to my goals,” he has said. “My hearing impairment is invisible, so people didn’t notice it except when trying to communicate with me.”
Blehm’s high school coach, Henry Brenner, said, “It was fantastic to have someone so fantastic. He moved here (from Bismarck) in the seventh grade, and you could see he was going to develop into something special.” Brenner’s son, Terry, said, “I think most people recognized “Blehm’s athletic ability instead of his disability, if you consider deafness a disability.”
Radio broadcaster, Lee Halvorson, has said, “He was one of the most mature young men I ever ran into.” Halvorson used to do the play-by-play for KDLR in Devils Lake. “(Blehm) is the best offensive basketball player I have ever seen in my life,” he said. “If they would have had 3-point range then, he would have one-third more points than he does now.” Halvorson recalled the Lakota Highschool coach once telling him his game plan for going up against the School for the Deaf. “He said if they could hold Blehm to between 30 and 40 points,” Halvorson said, “they could win the game. Blehm went out and scored 56 points. Pretty soon you took it for granted that he would have 35 or 40 halftime.”
After highschool, Blehm went to Minot State for a semester and then transferred to Gallaudet University in Washington D.C. There, he was MVP in ‘76 and ‘77, and in 1978, he was named Gallaudet’s Athlete of the Year. During that time, he also won a gold medal at the World Games for the Deaf in Romania.
Blehm was talented, good-looking, and an honor student, but he wasn’t perfect. In fact, Coach Brenner had to call in his 4th grade son, Terry, to start helping 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.”
Blehm and his wife, Linda, live in Virginia, where he works for the post office. He has said he’d consider a postal job transfer a “golden opportunity” to move back to North Dakota, because he misses it.

Article credit:

Thanks to: Scott Stockton for providing this information.