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Burros Run the Court

CHS hosts second annual Donkey Basketball

A Polk County Firefighter aims for the basket on Monday night’s Donkey Basketball Game.

Photo by Jennifer Halley
A Polk County Firefighter aims for the basket on Monday night’s Donkey Basketball Game.

INDEPENDENCE — Central High School’s FFA Chapter hosted its second annual Donkey Basketball game Monday, where the Polk County Fire District No. 1, the Monmouth Police Department, Independence Police Department, Western Oregon University students and CHS staff dueled it out with one another on the backs of burros for a shot at the Donkey Basketball game championship title.

Brenda Phearson and Lynn Thomas, heads of Central’s FFA Chapter, organized the event. Last year was their first year trying it out. Phearson said they didn’t do much publicize last year and were a little skeptical about what would happen, but had a great turnout anyway, so they figured they would try it again this year.

“This year a bunch of people were on board,” Phearson said. “The fire department, the police department, everybody, was like, ‘Oh can we play?’ And so it’s been great, its a good community to come together.”

All the proceeds of the Donkey Basketball Game go toward the FFA.

The company that trains the donkeys is a traveling company, Donkey Sports Inc., located out of Entiat, Wash.

“We’ve been in business for about 32-plus years,” Bailey Wick, the company owner’s daughter, said. From late January to May, the company travels from Washington down to California, heading to Colorado after that, then down to New Mexico and Arizona, and ending up in the Montana area.

Donkey Sports Inc. is usually used at FFA events or high school fundraisers, Wick said.

So how does a donkey basketball game work?

Essentially, like any other basketball game — except the players are riding donkeys, trying to encourage them up and down the court as players fight to steal the ball from one another. If a ball is dropped, the rider can get off the donkey but he or she must remain attached to the animal in some way. This resulted in numerous attempts to move those stubborn burros toward the ball.

Even for a grown man or woman, trying to move a donkey who doesn’t want to go anywhere is a challenge.

To not scuff up the floors, the donkeys wear special rubber shoes on their hooves. The company also provides referees to ensure both donkeys and players are safe and being treated well. The referees would keep behind the donkeys throughout the entire game with a long cane that they tapped on the floor to keep the donkeys moving.

The game had a good turnout, with the stands in the Panther Pit full. Tim Kreta, head coach of the boys basketball team, and Julie McDonald, head coach of the girls basketball team, participated in the game as part of the CHS staff, showing off their basketball skills while trying not to fall off the donkeys they were riding.

The Donkey Basketball Game was a fun way to bring the community together and to promote the FFA Chapter.

When else would you get to see a police officer on the back of a donkey?

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