ANSONIA, Ohio – The 9th annual “FFA Grudge Match Blood Drive” between rivals Mississinawa Valley and Ansonia High School on June 21 was a tighter tug-of-war than anyone expected.
The “home team” usually wins the annual Grudge Match. The MVHS FFA kept that record intact by claiming last summer’s Grudge Match in Union City. But this year the MVHS faithful also traveled in strong numbers to the Ansonia High gym and forced a surprising 15-15 stalemate.
A tie qualifies as an upset in the history of this rivalry, but once again the true winner is Community Blood Center and the summer blood supply as the July 4th holiday approaches. The rivals topped 127 percent of their collection goal with 34 donors, including five first-time donors and 28 donations.
MVHS FFA co-advisors Gwen Bergman and Carmen Hartzell were confident their club could compete, especially on a rainy first day of summer. Students are usually busy with outdoor jobs during the summer months, but the wet weather gave some a break to attend the blood drive.
“We continue to do it with Ansonia High School,” said Carmen, who donated and voted for MVHS as her sixth-grade son Daniel and first-grade daughter Kate waited at her side. “It’s fun to see who can get the most to donate.”
Gwen Bergman was quick to recruit senior FFA member Elijah Livingston when he arrived for his volunteer duties in the Donor Café. His vote proved valuable.
“I’ve donated before at our school blood drives, but I hadn’t done the competition before,” said Elijah, who made his eighth lifetime donation, the equivalent of one gallon. “I was planning on working it, but they told me they didn’t have enough so I said, ‘OK, I’ll donate.’”
Ansonia FFA co-advisor Zane Fessler voted for his club with his 11th lifetime donation, but lamented the change of fortunes when comparing their December FFA blood drive, held on the second day of winter, to Thursday’s Grudge Match on the first day of summer.
“At Ansonia we do the blood drives (for students and the community) here every other month,” said Zane. “We had a special one at Christmas. All the classes were involved in it. We collected a lot of prizes, and we maxed out. We had all our slots filled.”
The Dec. 22 blood drive totaled 44 donors and reached 138 percent of goal. “If we could have kept up that momentum we’d being doing good,” said Zane.
Rival FFA Presidents Will Hall from Mississinawa and Ethan Fischer held the Grudge Match Blood Drive trophy together. They schools will have to share ownership of the traveling trophy until next year.
Ethan is already thinking about his term as president, and the next Christmas season blood drive. “It was for FFA,” he said. “We hope to have a good year.”