UNION CITY, Ohio – Mississinawa Valley High School lifted up the winners’ trophy after registering more donors than rival Ansonia High School in the 8th annual “FFA Grudge Match Blood Drive” Thursday, June 22. But everyone deserved thanks during a summer of heavy lifting to maintain the blood supply.
The “home team” usually wins the annual Grudge Match, and the MVHS FFA kept that record intact by reclaiming the trophy with a resounding 18-5 victory margin. The votes came from everyone who registered to donate in the blood drive and the overall result was 26 donors and 20 donations.
The Grudge Match is a summer tradition that brings together the rival high school communities to help boost the blood supply before the challenging July 4th holiday period. It’s never an easy task, and this year’s Grudge Match was a particular challenge because of conflicting FFA and 4-H summer camps.
“It’s been difficult,” admitted MVHS FFA co-advisor and blood drive coordinator Gwen Bergman. “Melinda (CBC’s Melinda Frech) told us the numbers were down. But we’ve been texting, the schools did a one-call, and we posted it in on Facebook. This is a good group of FFA members and officers.”
Ansonia FFA members faced the same challenges. “This is a horrible time to get a hold of people!” said AHS FFA co-advisor Zane Fessler. But FFA co-advisor Emily Williams reasoned that with both rivals facing the same summer challenges, Ansonia had hope of defending the Grudge Match title.
“It’s summer time – you never know!” Emily said.
Dave Priebe is a retired Greenville music teacher and choir director who now volunteers as an English tutor at Ansonia Elementary School. He wore his Ansonia orange t-shirt as he helped the Grudge Match cause with his 20th lifetime donation.
“I always donate when it’s at Ansonia and then come here,” he said.
But Ansonia could not overcome the historical “home gym” advantage. Rossburg’s Ariana Graf has a couple of “Future-FFA-ers” in her family and was inspired to make her first lifetime blood donation to help Mississinawa Valley.
“My kids go to school here. They’ll be in first and third grade,” she said. “I thought I should go and support the school!”