Posted 1/19/16 (Tue)
By Kevin Killough
The competition was fierce last week on the Tioga High School gym floor last week.
The crowd cheered on their favorite teams. Those competing were The Barn Warmers, The Lightning Eeyores, The Badonkadonks, and Our Donks on Fire.
Then there were the donkeys, such as Rigor Mortis, Ex-Lax, Super Stupid, Rocket Man, and team substitute, Killer.
Tioga’s first ever Donkey Basketball event turned out to be a huge success, drawing a large crowd of spectators.
Donkey basketball is a bit of a spin on the American favorite sport. The rules are pretty much the same as regular basketball, but players move about the court -- or don’t move at all, as the case may be -- on donkeys.
Staying on the donkey and getting it to go where you want is actually more of a challenge than getting the ball in the basket, but players were not allowed to shoot or pass the ball unless they were riding atop their donkeys.
The donkeys wear special pads on their hoofs to protect the court, and Dairyland Donkey Ball LLC, the company that hosts the events, guarantees the animals will not damage gym floors.
Susan Vachal, who organized the event for Hess Relay For Life, got the idea to hold the event after seeing it played in Stanley last year.
“I laughed until I almost cried,” she said.
Ray has hosted one of the games in the past, also.
Vachal coordinated the plans for the Tioga event with FFA advisor Jeremy Carkuff.
In addition to admission fees, a free-will dinner of pulled-pork sandwiches and potato salad brought in donations, as did the raffle and concession sales.
The event ended up raising about $8,000 for Tioga FFA and Hess Relay For Life, who will be splitting the proceeds.
“Just having the crowd there, the kids. It went really great,” Carkuff said.
Vachal said she is also pleased with the turnout.
She served on the all-important sanitation crew, as the donkeys sometimes don’t wait until after the game to do their business. Armed with shovels and dressed in full-body coverings, the sanitation crew was ready to clean up any accidents that happened during the game.
Two games run in two 15-minute halves, with two different teams competing against each other each game. Intermission events included free donkey rides for the kids.
And at the end of the night, there was a championship showdown between the winners of the first and second game.
The Badonkadonks were a team composed of Tioga Medical Center professionals, whose uniforms included leggings and tutus.
When asked how a competitor prepares to win on the court of donkey basketball, some of the Badonkadonks said daily stretching and vitamins were helpful.
Other team members had their own strategies.
“A cocktail every 20 minutes,” Ann Korzan joked.
Kate Schiel said the team is well connected, which would give them an edge over the other teams.
“We know someone who knows someone who knows the donkeys,” she said.
Tyler Larson of The Barn Warmers team, which was composed of FFA members, isn’t sure how one would prepare for the night’s battle.
“Your guess is as good as ours,” he said.
However, his aunt came out to see her nephew compete in the event.
“I like to go see everything he’s in,” said Marilyn Larson.
Tyler’s teammate, Cole Marmon, did point out there is some preparation all competitors go through to be successful.
“We had a 20 minute lecture,” Marmon said.
The crowd had just as much fun as the players, laughing at all the stumbling, falling, pulling, and antics on the court.
Vachal said, in light of the event’s success, it’s likely she or someone will organize another match next year.
In fact, Vachal said Ray was considering holding the event this year, but Dairyland is in such high demand scheduling would have placed the events too close together.