ANSONIA, Ohio – The 6.6 mile stretch of Ohio State Route 47 between Ansonia High School and rival Mississinawa Valley High School is the asphalt rope in a community tug-of-war. The schools battle down the road and back, trading Ansonia football victories against Mississinawa revenge in basketball. It’s a balance of power that makes the rivalry great, and they expect no less from their FFA teams in the Grudge Match Blood Drive.
Ansonia upheld the tradition of “home team” advantage by winning the 7th annual Community Blood Center FFA Grudge Match Blood Drive Monday, June 27 in the AHS gym. Everyone who registered to donate could cast a “vote” for their school. Ansonia reclaimed the Grudge Match trophy with a winning margin of 30-17. The trophy will be on display with a new inscription when students return in the fall.
The challenge blood drive is a way of supporting the blood supply during the summer months when there are no high school blood drives. The combined support for the Grudge Match resulted in 48 registrations and 37 blood donations.
“I like the way it gets the kids involved at a young age,” said Cheryl Warrell, a former secretary at Ansonia who made her 53rd lifetime donation Monday. “It gets them started in life donating.”
Both schools are past winners of $1,000 CBC High School Leadership Grants for percentage of enrollment supporting blood drives. Both schools are also extremely proud of their FFA programs.
Ansonia FFA students operate the Ansonia FFA Greenhouse, a fall and spring retail garden center that sells 400 different kinds of plants and does more than $50,000 worth of business a year.
“It’s really busy in the winter, getting everything ready,” said FFA member and blood drive volunteer Sarah Rhoades, who took the class offered in greenhouse management. “We plant thousands of seeds, grow them in our lab in the class and take them out to the greenhouse when they sprout.”
FFA students from both schools see the value in being hard workers and blood donors. Megan Bergan, a former FFA student who graduated from Ansonia in May, worked a full early shift at her summer job before coming to the Grudge Match to make her fourth lifetime donation.
Mississinawa FFA graduate Kasey Hummel made her 9th lifetime donation at the Grudge Match before going to her summer job at Fort Recovery Industries. She works the third shift six nights a week, saving money for the fall when she will be studying agronomy and ag-business at Wilmington College.
“I did public speaking in FFA,” she said. “I was really shy when I started. But we had to write a speech and talk in front of people and I did it. My topic was soy beans!”
Mississinawa Valley senior and FFA member Shainan Livingston made her 5th lifetime donation Tuesday. Her team won the Grudge Match last year, and she admits it’s easier to recruit when you’re the home team. But that didn’t stop her from making the drive down Ohio 47 to Ansonia.
“I like donating,” she said. “I got a call one time about how they had to rush my blood to a different blood bank that needed it for someone.”