Under Elisa Manzanares’ lead, Stanford has beaten Cal for the past 12 consecutive years — but not in football, or any sport for that matter.
After a two-year hiatus, the annual Rivals For Life blood drive competition between Stanford and UC Berkeley is returning on Nov. 16.
The drive will take place at Arrillaga Center for Sports and Recreation from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and at Arrillaga Outdoor Education and Recreation Center from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
The Daily spoke with Manzanares, an account manager at Stanford Blood Center (SBC), about the history and significance of the drive.
This interview has been lightly edited and condensed for clarity.
The Stanford Daily (TSD): How did this Big Game tradition begin?
Elisa Manzanares (EM): Everybody loves a good competition. At the same time, you know, our blood supply always drops really low every Thanksgiving week and over the holidays. But really, it’s just a fun way for both Stanford and Cal to work together. It’s a friendly competition, and it’s really for the community. I mean, the real winners are local patients on both sides. So we have students, alumni, staff, fans, they all come in and donate, and then, in the end, we see who could collect the most units. It’s really just a win for everybody.
TSD: How is this year’s competition looking?
EM: Stanford has won, I’m proud to say, for 12 consecutive years. This will be lucky number 13. Although I will say the appointments are really low right now, I don’t know if it’s a post-pandemic thing or not, but I’ll be very happy if people walk in. I would hate to lose my first one in so long.
TSD: Where does the blood go?
EM: Stanford Blood Center is a truly local blood center. We only service local hospitals: our biggest users are the Lucille Packard Children’s Hospital and Stanford Hospital, which are both very large and have large transplant centers and a lot of cancer centers. There are also multiple other [local] hospitals, Palo Alto Medical Foundation, Pleasanton, Livermore, UCSF transplant program… we provide them with some blood when they’re having problems.
On the Cal side, the Red Cross Blood Center goes out to Cal, and they’re actually a national center so that could go anywhere in the US. But for our donors that come in here, I always like to let people know you’re helping your neighbor right across the street.
TSD: What impact have you seen this blood drive have on the community?
EM: How often in life can you take an hour and really be somebody’s hero on the court? I mean, your blood is going to get used probably within two or three weeks, depending on your blood type. You can literally see the difference, if you’ve ever seen a person that’s going through treatment. They go in and they’re just pale and they’re tired. They get one or two units of red cells, and they come out and they’ve got color, they’ve got energy. They look like they’ve just got a Triple Shot Venti from Starbucks, and now they can go live their life a little better while they’re going through it.
TSD: How close has it been before?
EM: We’ve got some really tight competition pretty much every year. One of my favorite ones, Cal had done the blood drive the day before we were scheduled to do ours, so I actually knew how much they had collected. We were about an hour before closing the drive and I’m sitting there trying to count up the units and I’m like, ‘Oh my gosh, we’re gonna lose by like two units.’
Then one of the athletics coaches, Tim Ghormley, of the martial arts program, marched a bunch of his athletes up at the last minute. I said, ‘I think we’re gonna lose by like two units.’ And he’s like, ‘Oh, that can’t happen.’ So we rallied in the last hour of the blood drive, and we ended up winning by six units that year.
Even though I was really tired at the end of the night, I knew we did it. I was driving home and it’s dark and ‘the crowd goes wild’ in my head.
So we need every person to be thinking about it to come out this year. I think it’s gonna be close — I think Cal’s got a good chance this year because my appointments are now low for the drive. It can be a matter of 20 donors.
TSD: Is there anything you want to add about Wednesday’s drive?
EM: No, just come on out, be somebody’s hero, and you can show a little Cardinal pride.