Dick Ames has a sweet shot, hits from downtown with regularity, and knows the game. The Bemidji State men’s basketball team likely wouldn’t mind having him on the floor down three points with under a minute left.
“He’s the best shooter I’ve ever seen,” said Bemidji State guard Dermaine Crockrell – a pretty good shooter in his own right. “He’s ridiculous. He comes in every day and he obviously shows he can shoot the ball really well.”
Ames has been known to make 83 3-pointers in a row during his morning workouts at Bemidji State’s Gillett Recreation-Fitness Center.
“Oh yeah, he can really shoot that thing, too,” said Beavers forward Mason Walters. “I heard of him making like 100 3s in a row or something. He just stokes it out there. Never misses.”
Yes, Ames would be a great asset to any college basketball team. The only question would be if the 72-year-old Bemidji man has any college eligibility left.
Unfortunately for the BSU basketball team and head coach Mike Boschee, Ames graduated from Minnesota State Moorhead in 1970. He may be well past his opportunity to play college basketball, but he can likely shoot any comers out of the gym, if they dare take him on.
“I just come in and do my routine,” Ames said of his morning shooting sessions at the rec center. Ames prefers to do his shooting workouts solo – he gets more done.
“I just prefer it that way,” he says. “There’s just too much talking and standing around when you’re shooting with people. So I just come in and do my thing.”
He still gets the occasional onlooker, including members of the BSU basketball team, like forward Maxie Rosenbloom.
“He’s in the rec center taking all his shots, his 3s,” Rosenbloom said with a smile when asked about Ames. “He’ll always tease me, ‘Hey, Maxie, I’ll bet I can make more 3s.’ And I always tell him, ‘You probably can, Dick. Shooting’s not my strong point.’ But Dick is such a great guy to have around.”
The world record for consecutive 3-pointers made, according to the Guinness Book of World Records, is 209. Ames’ best is 83 – not quite there yet. But what’s remarkable about Ames is his consistency. He doesn’t finish his workouts until he makes at least 20 in a row.
“I haven’t failed this semester yet,” he said. “My record is 83. But I’ve also had 71, a couple 67s, 66. … I’ve been over 40 143 times and go from there.”
Ames also keeps track of 3s made out of one hundred; his record so far is 100-for-102.
“And we’re not talking about 10 years ago,” he said with a laugh. “That was just a few weeks ago.”
Although Ames isn’t a Bemidji native – or even a Bemidji State graduate – he hasn’t missed a BSU home game in years.
New BSU head coach Mike Boschee said when he arrived here he was impressed by Ames’ dedication to the game and to the program.
“He’s a great guy, and a really passionate basketball fan,” Boschee said. “He loves the Bemidji area. And he’s the type of guy, you ask him about hockey, he wouldn’t even know what that is. He knows basketball and he knows it well.
“We’re thankful to have fans like that. He cares about the program, cares about our kids. It’s nice to have that.”
Ames’ passion for the game began when he was growing up in Wadena. He liked basketball because it was something he could do by himself.
“You can go grab a ball, take it to the dirt court and just play,” he said. “My mom was bringing up four kids on her own after my dad died, and we weren’t very financially secure, so it was a way to stay out of.
“We had a dirt court with a plywood board and I’d go out there, put a flashlight on the board and play all night.”
After he graduated from high school, where he lettered in the sport, he went into the Air Force, where he said he became a “gym rat,” playing pickup games against whoever he could find.
“I played all the ball I could there,” he said. “That was fun, playing against guys from other areas of the country. There were a lot of college ball players there and I think I held my own.”
Still, he never got the chance to play in college. By the time he got out of the service, he was married with children. A coach at Moorhead State (now Minnesota State Moorhead) tried to get him to play, but he didn’t have the time.
“I told the coaches, ‘If you want me on the team you’ll have to pay for my babysitter.’ So that pretty much ended it.”
He graduated in four years with a degree in accounting and landed a job with the Minnesota Department of Revenue in Bemidji.
He never left. Maybe it was because he got to know anybody and everybody in the area basketball scene, playing pickup games wherever he could find an open gym.
“Nobody ever had a problem letting me play,” he said. “The lab school over there, that’s now Bensen Hall, they had a gym in the basement over there. I had an office on campus for quite a while, so I could go play ball during lunch.
“Over the years I played any pickup ball I could, and that entailed coming up to the college and playing against these college kids. When I was in my early 30s that was fun, playing against college competition.”
He doesn’t do that anymore – he says he doesn’t think he could handle it. But some of the current BSU players aren’t so sure.
“He’s just butter,” Rosenbloom said of Ames’ shot. “He has a weird follow-through, but he could teach me a few things I think.”
Playing pickup games against the college kids when he was in his 30s morphed into going to their games. Now, he says, he doesn’t miss a home game and goes to all the road games he can.
The players appreciate his knowledge.
“It’s awesome,” Crockrell said of Ames’ dedication. “He comes to every game, and he’s always there to support us. It’s nice to talk to him about the game, ask him for tips on shooting. He always tells me to go out there and let it fly. He’s a good fan to have.”
The Beavers play their first game in Bemidji Dec. 1 against Minnesota-Crookston. Expect Ames to be there in green and white. He says last year’s season – a 22-9, conference championship, NCAA Tournament year – will be tough to beat. But the Beavers are on the right track.
“That was a dream year,” he said. “I didn’t go to all the road games, but I went to every home game. (Former BSU head coach Matt Bowen) did a tremendous job. I still have good memories of him.
“But I think Mike (Boschee, new BSU head coach) is a good guy. I think he’s going to carry on the tradition well. He’s a good person and a good coach.”