Community laughs their donkeys off at charity ballgame

Published 10:06 am Monday, January 26, 2015

Star Photo/Brandon Hicks Laughs were shared by everyone.

“Runaway donkey!”
“Throw it to the llama!”
“Get on your donkey!”
Those aren’t your typical shouts heard at a ball game, but then again, this wasn’t your typical ball game.
Eight donkeys and eight people took to the basketball court at Hunter Elementary to battle it out during a donkey basketball fundraiser for the TLC Community Center. The game was organized by Professional Animal Frolics from Boiling Springs, N.C.
During the game, teams played four eight-minute quarters while riding on their donkeys. The game has no timeouts and no fouls. The only rule during play was players had to be mounted on the donkey for baskets to count. At the end of each quarter, the players were told to dismount from the donkeys to give them a break from the action.
“It’s kind of an anything-goes game,” said Frolics owner Thurston Hamrick, who also served as referee. “The girls usually get away with more than the guys because I like the girls more.”
The teams in the game were the Blazing Burros from Beck Mountain Baptist Church and the Hunter Jackasses, a community team made of employees from Big John’s Closeouts, members of Grace Baptist Church and other individuals.
The donkey lineup included Kenny Chesney, Obama, Ready Freddy, Gypsie, Bubblegum, Mad Jeffrey, Tom Terrific and Jane who all started in the game. Two other team members were Terrorist and Tonka Toy, who came in during the second half to give their furry teammates a break.
Hamrick gave each player and donkey an introduction to the audience, but some donkeys came with a little extra warning. One donkey that was especially treacherous was Mad Jeffrey.
“Nine out of 10 people who have ridden him have ended up in the ICU,” Hamrick warned rider Dustin Price of the Hunter Jackasses. “Of those, six have lived and two have learned to walk again.”
As a precaution for Price’s safety, even though the stories of Mad Jeffrey’s danger may have been exaggerated, Hamrick let Price in on the secret to riding the ornery donkey. To insure his safety, Price had to get down on his hands and knees and ask Mad Jeffrey to let him ride him safely.
The extra safety step must have worked because Price reported he and Mad Jeffrey got along just find during their time in the game together.
“It must have helped,” he said. “We did just fine.”
Not everyone had such a peaceful relationship with their donkey partner. Most players were bucked, thrown, kicked or led on a wild-donkey chase around the basketball court by their four-legged teammate.
Jake Morgan of the Blazing Burros battled his donkey Bubblegum more than the opposing team. Morgan said he was bucked from Bubblegum, kicked three times and then kicked by someone else’s donkey when Bubblegum ran from him. During the struggle, Morgan’s pants were the casualty.
“I ripped my pants,” he said, pointing to a large split that ran down the seam of his leg. “These were brand new pants. This was the first time I put them on. It was worth every bit of it, though. I had a great time.”
Brannon Britt, a Hunter community team member, had a hard time with Mad Jeffrey. This could have come because he did not complete the pre-game ritual of asking for permission before attempting to ride the donkey.
“I was bucked and kicked,” Britt said, pointing to a donkey hoof print left on his shin. “I had a stubborn one and I switched to this one. It didn’t work out.”
Many of the players had ridden animals before, such as horses, bulls and cows. They all agreed that riding a donkey was a completely different ball game.
“It was hard because I couldn’t keep my balance when I was trying to shoot,” said Cody Young of the Hunter Jackasses. “I have rode bulls before and this was harder. It was much slicker and narrower, and there was no rope to hold on to.”
A llama named Tina was also part of the action but didn’t come into the game until the fourth quarter. At the start of the fourth quarter, whichever team was behind was allowed an extra player on the field.
In this game, the score was a tie when the fourth quarter started. Hamrick then turned to the crowd to get their opinion on who should get the player boost. The crowd was asked to make noise for their choice of team and the Hunter Jackasses scored an extra player.
This meant the extra player needed an animal to ride, but with all the donkeys either on the court or taking a break options were limited. This is where Tina the llama came into the game, giving the extra player a ride until the end of the game.
When the final buzzer sounded, Hamrick declared to a packed Hunter Elementary gym that the winner was the donkeys by a score of 14-8.

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox