WENATCHEE — If there were winners at Monday night’s donkey basketball game, it might have just been the donkeys. At least they seemed to get their way for most of the night.
On the human end of things, Pioneer Middle School staff would have hoisted the trophy for the third straight year — if they hadn’t misplaced it from last year. They beat out the Wenatchee Police and Chelan County Fire departments, and the Mission View Elementary School staff.
They also beat the Wenatchee High School’s FBLA and FFA clubs, who hosted the fundraiser. This year money raised by the event goes to the Women’s Resource Center of North Central Washington.
The competition started with a lecture to the players from wrangler Jeff Pittsinger, of Entiat, with Donkey Sports, who provides the animals for 90 donkey basketball games a year around the Pacific Northwest.
Along with rules of the game there were also warnings not to hurt the animals. There was also some safety advice for the riders. “You can’t stand on the donkey and dunk the ball,” he said. “And you can’t ride sitting backwards.”
To protect the Wenatchee High School gym floor from the animals’ hooves, the donkeys are shoed with rubber boot heels purchased at a Wenatchee shoe store.
Once the 10-minute games began, it was more of a human–beast struggle than an athletic competition of grace and beauty. It didn’t matter what the riders did, the animals grouped together and wandered from one end of the court to the other with wranglers herding them along toward the baskets.
The high scorer of the night (eight points) and the only one who seemed to have much control over her steed was Elizabeth Cabrera who works in the kitchen at Pioneer. Asked after winning the championship game about her secret she answered, “You have to love your donkey. I always talk nice to my donkey.”