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Posted on Feb 1, 2019

Donkey basketball brings laughs, support for FFA

If only the Super Bowl allowed donkeys.
FFA students gave a lesson on how to keep an audience entertained during a low-scoring game on Jan. 31, when they took to Woodworth Court to play basketball while riding donkeys.
The donkey basketball games helped raise funds for the Quincy chapter of FFA. About $1,000 of $2,500 raised went into the group’s coffers.
“It was fun, everybody’s having a good time,” said FFA student Cooper Rapp, while classmate Rosie Combs felt pumped, but a little more apprehensive.
“I’m excited,” she said. “I just don’t want to fall off.”

Anne Safe (with ball) tries to get the ball closer to the hoop, while three teammates (in white helmets) try to get closer to the basket.
Photo by Sebastian Moraga/Post-Register

Students wore helmets, black and white, to help identify the teams. After a couple of games, the helmets got sweaty, which didn’t thrill some of the players in the third and fourth games who had to use helmets with someone else’s sweat on them. Still, rules are rules, the helmets went on, and so did the games.
“It’s waaaay harder than it looks!” said Hailey McKee, who plays basketball for the Lady Jacks. “You’re off balance and trying to shoot it, and you’re scared that your donkey is going to run. It’s still pretty fun.”
The students had split into four teams of five, with four of the five players riding donkeys and the fifth player handling tip-offs and inbound passes at midcourt. Players could dismount from their donkeys to grab a loose ball, but they could not let go of the reins, so they had to chase a stray ball while pulling on their uncooperative four-legged teammate at the same time.
Scoring, stealing and shot-blocking could only happen from atop a donkey.
The animals behaved well, other than the occasional grassy poop. Hailing from Entiat’s Donkey Sports Inc., the donkeys were a little stubborn, but patient and tame, and they wore non-scuff tennis shoes on their hooves, so the floor of the gym endured no scratches, FFA co-adviser Rod Cool said.
FFA student Stacia Sarty used every tool at her disposal to get her donkey to obey, from pep talks to blowing kisses at it.
“I was just trying to be nice to him, so maybe he would go with me, I was pulling on him so much,” Sarty said with a laugh. “I was like, ‘C’mon, babyyy!’”
It didn’t quite work, Sarty said.
“They don’t listen at all,” she said. “You have no control.”
The four teams got paired up, and the teams on each pair played each other in a 10-minute game. The losing teams played for third place, and the winners played for first. The winning team from the championship game played a shorter (five-minute) game against Quincy High School teachers Trent Purcell, Patrick Gordon, Matthew See, Tod Heikes and assistant principal Felicie Becker.
The staff team beat the champions, 6-4, with an unexpected star scoring four of the staffers’ six points.
First-year band director Gordon hails from Seattle, not known as a donkey basketball hotbed.
“How do you make this thing go?!” he asked at the start from atop his donkey.
Conversely, Tumwater native Becker, another west-sider, relied on her 10 years riding horses to control her animal.
“It feels a little less responsive” than a horse, she said with a laugh.
Still, Gordon managed to not only survive but thrive.
“MVP, what can I say,” Gordon said. “This thing just does its own thing, but then I got used to it. I was like, ‘OK, I will learn how to drive it.’ Now if I can learn how to parallel park, I can pass my driving test.”

By Sebastian Moraga,