earning varsity letters

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sobhan

Senior Member
PERSIAN
She was a versatile athlete, earning varsity letters in basketball, hockey, and track.
What does "varsity letters" mean?
Source: SAT essential words
 
  • Keith Bradford

    Senior Member
    English (Midlands UK)
    Varsity = university
    If she represented her university, she would be awarded a "letter" - an embroidered badge with the initial of the college, looking something like this:

     

    dojibear

    Senior Member
    English - Northeast US
    My high school competed with 14 other high schools in baseball, football, and basketball. The schedule of games was planned in advance. The team that competed with other schools was called our "varsity team". The varsity team is mostly seniors (4th year students) and juniors (3d year). Some games (especially football) had hundreds of spectators, and had cheerleaders and musical bands.
     

    Packard

    Senior Member
    USA, English
    In my high school we had "junior varsity" and "varsity" players. The "varsity" players were the most capable of the athletes, and mostly were juniors or seniors, rarely freshmen. The junior varsity players were often promoted as their skills improved.

    Having "Lettered" in a sport allowed the player to wear a varsity sweater or jacket, a point of great prestige back then.

    This is an example of a varsity jacket (with the letter sewn on).

     

    dojibear

    Senior Member
    English - Northeast US
    As a junior (3d year student) in high school, I was on the "junior varsity" basketball team. I was only "pretty good" at basketball, but I was the tallest student in the school, so the coach encouraged me to play.

    Even though I attended the coach's basketball camp during the summer (between 3d and 4th year), I did not get good enough at basketball to play on the varsity basketball team. So I wasn't on any team during my senior (4th) year.

    And of course I didn't get a "varsity letter". There is no equivalent letter for "junior varsity" team members.
     

    Linkway

    Senior Member
    British English
    Has anyone actually said what a varsity letter is actually based on? I mean does the choice of letter depend on the name of the specific school? If so, what happens when several schools have the same or similar names?
    And if it's based on the school's name, does that mean it's the same regardless of the particular sport or team? And if someone is seen with (eg) G for (eg) Georgetown, how does anyone know whether they are a footballer, oarsman, table-tennis player or whatever?
     

    Glenfarclas

    Senior Member
    English (American)
    Has anyone actually said what a varsity letter is actually based on? I mean does the choice of letter depend on the name of the specific school?
    It's generally the main initial of the school: McKinley High School will use an M, Lane Tech (Lane Technical College Prep High School) uses an L, etc. Some schools use a monogram consisting of multiple initials (e.g. Georgia Tech -- although the original style used only a T -- and Notre Dame).

    If so, what happens when several schools have the same or similar names?
    Then they use the same letter; it doesn't matter. These aren't coats of arms. Of course the jacket and the letter will be in the school colors, so there's an added level of differentiation.

    And if it's based on the school's name, does that mean it's the same regardless of the particular sport or team? And if someone is seen with (eg) G for (eg) Georgetown, how does anyone know whether they are a footballer, oarsman, table-tennis player or whatever?
    Yes, it's the same for all sports at the school. Somewhere else on the jacket it will say "FOOTBALL", or show a pair of lacrosse sticks, or whatever.
     
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