Donkey Ball tournament to raise money for TLC Community Center

Published 8:17 am Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Star File Photo The theme of the night  during last year's game was defense... and staying on your donkey.

Star File Photo
The theme of the night during last year’s game was defense… and staying on your donkey.

Next Friday, a special basketball tournament will be held, but what makes the event so unique is not the title to be won, but the games’ competitors.
When the teams take the court, they will be riding donkeys.
That’s right… Donkey Ball is returning to Elizabethton.
On Friday, Jan. 15 at 7 p.m. at Hunter Elementary School, players of both the two-legged and four-legged variety will take the court.
The special tournament will serve as a fundraiser for the TLC Community Center.
In years past, groups like volunteer fire departments and churches used donkey ball games as a way to raise funds. However, the games disappeared for a while and then, last year, the TLC Center held the first donkey ball game in years.
Donkey ball games were always popular, and TLC Center Director Angie Odom theorizes it might be because of how fun it is to watch.
“I hadn’t been to one myself until last year,” she said. “It was so much fun. Everyone was laughing.”
When the game begins, teams take the court and mount their donkeys. In order to score a point, the player must be mounted at the time the shot is made.
Being a good player takes more than just skill with a basketball, it requires a bit of animal magnetism according to Odom.
“It’s hilarious because the donkey does not always want to cooperate,” Odom said. “They are trying to get the donkey by talking to it and riding it to get it to go over to the basket.”
“The donkey’s don’t mind being ridden, they just may not agree with where the rider wants to go,” she added.
The game is being coordinated by Bar H Events from Boiling Springs, N.C., which is owned by Thurston Hamrick.
“The man who does this is so nice. He does this as a way to help him feed and keep his donkeys,” Odom said. “The donkeys are very well-treated.”
The donkeys used for the games are specially trained by Bar H Events to take part in the game.
“The donkey’s won’t start the game until they National Anthem is played,” Odom said, laughing as she recalled last year’s game. “They are trained and they know the song. There is a certain point in the song that plays and the donkeys start moving their feet like they are getting ready and when it’s over they take off running.”
Last year, the event raised more than $2,000 for the TLC Community Center once the cost to bring in Bar H Events was deducted from the proceeds. This year, the Center has worked with several sponsors to help cover the cost of the game so more of the proceeds can go to fund the Center’s programs.
There are still openings for teams to participate, so Odom said any church groups, businesses or community organizations that would like to have a team take part can contact her about signing up. Only adults over the age of 18 can participate in the game, she said.
Last year’s champions, the Blazin’ Burros from Beck Mountain Baptist Church will be returning this year to defend their title, Odom said.
The Donkey Ball Game is being sponsored by: Big John’s Closeouts, Ridgeview RV Park & Pavilion, Mountain Aire Realty, First Church of God of Elizabethton Children’s Program, A+ Storage, Foster Signs, The UPS Store, Freda Bradshaw, Mike Owens and Brenda Guinn.
Tickets to the game are available at the door at a cost of $7 for adults, $5 for children, and children age 4 and under are admitted for free.
For more information, or to sign your team up, call Angie Odom at 423-895-8601.

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