Teachers, students, cops ride donkeys to raise leadership funds


Struggling to stay atop their donkeys, community members shot hoops at an event hosted by the Leadership I students on April 3 to raise money for the freshman and sophomore class councils. At 7 p.m., the students led eight specially trained donkeys into the Auxiliary gym to carry people as they played basketball.

Four 10-minute games were held over the course of the night. In the first, sophomores beat freshman in a 4-8 victory. In the second, two teams, named after two sponsors of the event and made up of students who won a raffle in March, were pitted against each other. Team Linn City Pub lost to Team Mean Street Pizza, 2-4. Amani Grant, junior, led his grade to victory against the seniors in the third game, 4-12. Finally, Steve Schramm, math teacher, and Michael Glane, science teacher, scored the majority of points for the team of teachers who beat the team of police officers, 8-12.

According to Clark Hoss, social studies teacher, this was the first time a Donkey Basketball game has been held at West Linn High since about the early 1990s. Butch Self, leadership adviser, was very familiar with the sport after watching it be used for fundraisers at Sandy High School, his alma mater. His son Tyler, freshman, suggested it to his colleagues during a Freshman Class Council brainstorm of possible fundraisers.

“Everyone in the school thought it was a practical joke for two months,” Butch said. “I showed a video of it to the leadership classes and they decided to do it.

Indeed, though this sport is new to West Linn High School, this sport is not new. According to Tim Harman, sophomore and donkey basketball announcer, the first donkey basketball game was played in 1930, and has continued ever since.

Kathy Lairson, former mayor of West Linn, attended the event to watch her grandson, Aaron Tompkins, junior, play on the junior team, and the game brought back memories of her time at North Eugene High School.

“When I was in high school, it was usually a fundraising thing, put on by a lot of clubs,” Lairson said. “It takes a lot of organizing to put on an event like this.”

The rules of four-on-four donkey basketball are simple: a player may dismount to retrieve the ball but cannot let go of the donkey at any time, and the two steed-less players in center court must keep at least one foot within the circle. The two officials who refereed the games were also herders, tapping long sticks on the ground to make sure the donkeys behaved. All players wore helmets, and while many fell to the floor, none were injured.

“It’s a great first big project for leadership to do,” Butch said. “It teaches them planning and organizing, but there is a lot of outside support from the donkey basketball organization.”

The money raised for the freshman and sophomore class councils so will be used to help plan the prom.