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Do you know what it means to “letter” in soccer or swimming?

The varsity letter for most schools is awarded for both talent and effort. It is designed to be a valued award for hard work, dedication, and ability.

The achievement of a varsity letter is not a right, but rather the result of a personal responsibility to act and behave all season in a “Varsity Manner,” meaning, an above average commitment to the team, the sport, to hard work and to improvement.
To earn a varsity letter in a particular sport, an athlete must fulfull certain requirements which may include some or all of the following:

  1. Finish the season in good standing with the coaches.
  2. Maintain a “varsity attitude” throughout the season. A varsity attitude is demonstrated by an above-average commitment to the team’s goals, to the sport and to one’s individual improvement.
  3. Finish the season with a 2.0 GPA.
  4. Don’t quit. Quitting for any reason prior to the end of the season will generally disqualify an athlete from a letter.
  5. Play at least 50% of the time for team sports or score points in the league championship or state meets for individual sports.

Rules vary from school to school but generally a letter can be earned by anyone from any grade level and an athlete can purchase a Letter Jacket after earning her first varsity letter. Some schools require a certain number of hours of community service or attendance at extracurricular events.

Some elite athletes are multiple letter(wo)men (e.g. if someone is a three year lettermen in both soccer and basketball, she played sufficient time on both the varsity soccer and basetball teams for three years). For the eligibility requirements of your particular school check with your athletic department.

Pretty Tough Trivia

Did you know that the birth of the varsity letter is attributed to Harvard? In 1865, the Harvard baseball team added an old English ‘H’ embroidered on their gray flannel shirts. The football team started to use the ‘H’ in 1875. It is not known when the letterman sweater came to high schools but there are examples seen in photos taken around 1910.

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