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The Gazette KCRG
Posted December 3, 2012
HIGH SCHOOL JOURNALISM: Bucking burros at West Delaware

West Delaware junior Mitch Demmer tries to stay on his donkey during a donkey basketball game last month in Manchester. (Riley Cole photo/West Delaware junior)

Editor’s note: Here is your chance to tell your story about your team, your school or your favorite player. If you’d like to join The Gazette’s growing list of high school contributors, contact J.R. Ogden at jr.ogden@thegazette.com

By Riley Cole, West Delaware junior

MANCHESTER – It was a basketball game, but not just any basketball game.

It was a donkey basketball game.

Senior Luke Palmer enjoys his ride during the donkey basketball game. (Riley Cole photo/West Delaware junior)

Players rode on donkeys while playing basketball, giving approximately 700 spectators quite the show. On Nov. 15, the West Delaware High School boys’ basketball team hosted donkey basketball in Seedorff Gymnasium to raise money for new uniforms.

Tony Tjaden, head boys’ basketball coach, has organized the event three times in the last four years.

“Each time we host an event, the laughs get louder than the last one,” Tjaden said.

Three student teams and one adult team rode on donkeys and played basketball, contending for the title of donkey basketball champions.

“It was just some friendly competition,” senior Thomas Oleson said. “The environment was great. The crowd never stopped laughing.”

Participants had mixed feelings about the night.

“I was thinking that I was going to get hurt,” junior Carter Frick said.

Oleson thought the event could be fun.

“All of my friends were doing it,” Oleson said. “It was fun competing against them and riding donkeys, too.”

Dairyland Donkey Ball, LLC, out of Chippewa, Wis., provided a master of ceremonies for the event, adding to the entertainment.

“I was scared when I rode on the donkey,” senior Sara Harper said. “He told us all the stories of people getting hurt and what the donkeys did to their riders.”

Senior Sam Harper lifts the reigns on her donkey. (Riley Cole photo/West Delaware junior)

Students liked riding the donkeys because it was a new experience.

“It was different riding a donkey,” Frick said. “It was a lot easier than I thought it was going to be.”

In the first game, one of the student teams took on the adult team. The adult team came out with a win. The next game, two student teams went at it. Junior Bailey Wessels said “it was intense. Donkeys weren’t cooperating and we wanted to score the most points to win.”

In the final game of the night, the adult team took on a second student team.

At the buzzer, the game was tied. As the tiebreaker, each team sent one representative to arm wrestle at center court. Shane Bockenstedt, a senior, and Tjaden were on their stomachs on the gym floor duking it out for the title. Eventually, the adult teams came out with a win.

Participants won’t forget this unique experience.

“Trying to ride a donkey that doesn’t cooperate very well and then play basketball at the same time is a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” Tjaden said.

Senior Ryan Soppe works his way toward the basket to score for his team. (Riley Cole photo/West Delaware junior)


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