The Varsity Letter – The Way It is and the Way It Was

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There’s the whistle! The kickoff! And they’re off! Athletics are in full swing at high school, prep schools, and colleges. Student athletes are giving their all for their teams, schools, and fans. A traditional reward for their efforts is the varsity letter. Varsity letters are a long-time symbol of student athletes’ dedication and achievement.

Varsity letters are usually in the shape of the first and/or second initial of the school name, for example “P” for Peru High School in New York or “DF” for Dobbs Ferry High School in New York. Their colors are part of the spirit and identity of each particular school, including red with a blue outline for Berlin High School in Connecticut and gold with a black outline for Trumbull High School in Connecticut.

Peru High School Varsity Letter in New York Dobbs Ferry High School Varsity Letter Berlin High School Varsity Letter Trumbull High School Varsity Letter
Peru High School’s
Varsity Letter
Peru, New York
Dobbs Ferry High School’s Varsity Letter
Dobbs Ferry, New York
Berlin High School’s
Varsity Letter
Berlin, Connecticut
Trumbull High School’s
Varsity Letter
Trumbull, Connecticut

Volunteering to Earn Varsity Letters

A new approach to earning varsity letters is to volunteer. Students volunteer 145 hours or more within a year in conjunction with their schools and their community’s local United Way. Some of the United Way organizations that are involved in offering a varsity letter volunteer program include Pierce County in Washington, first in the nation to do so, Snohomish County also in Washington, Washtenaw County in Michigan and in Olmsted County in Minnesota. The Varsity Letter in Community Service program is offered in other locations around the country.

Keeping Varsity Letters Looking Good


When all the hard work is done, and you have earned your varsity letter and/or completed your volunteering commitment, the most up-to-date way to keep your varsity letter in the best condition is by framing it in a Varsity Letter Frame. Museum-quality matting safeguards varsity letters, and solid hardwood shadowbox frames perfectly fit letters that measure up to 9” high and 7.75” wide. Specially selected mat colors are chosen to compliment the school colors of the varsity letter.

Varsity letters have long been awarded to student athletes as a lasting reminder of the hours of practice, dedication, effort, and competition, as well as the valued friendships and relationships made as members of a high school or college sports team.

The Way it Was

The varsity letter itself has been around since 1865, according to Wikipedia, when the Harvard baseball team added an Old English ‘H’ which was embroidered on the gray flannel shirt. The Harvard football team started to use the ‘H’ in 1875. At this time, the team captain allowed certain players who played in the most important games (Yale or Princeton) to keep the ‘H’ jerseys as an award. If a player did not play in an important game, the player had to return the jersey at the end of the season. Awarding the ‘H’ jersey may have been the birth of the varsity letter as an award.

The earliest example of the varsity letter in high school dates back to 1911 at Phoenix Union High School in the Arizona Territory. A student was pictured in the yearbook wearing a sweater with the letter “P” on the left side, according to an article in – Historical Treasure: Letter sweaters prized possessions. Letterman sweaters were regularly used to display the award from the 1890’s until about the 1930’s. From the late 1930’s until today, the Letterman’s jacket has been a way for athletes to display their letter.

Since the 1970’s and through the present time, there has been a growth of women’s sports which has reached a new high, commented Ali Shrode online on intersect. There are now more and more varsity letters awarded that require a place to be displayed and a way to be preserved.

The Way It Is

Presently, the Varsity Letter Frame has become a popular choice for athletes to not only display their award, but to preserve it for years to come.

Rye High School Varsity Letter Frame in Omega Moulding
Rye High School
Varsity Letter Frame in Omega

The frame is customized with the school’s athletic logo embossed on the top mat, plus a gold or silver plate is included to be engraved with suggested text or your own wording.

Also, athletes and family members can design their own frame online by going to our High School Design Your Frame page.

We can set up an Athletic Frames Fundraising Program for High Schools where the school or booster club can earn a commission to support their athletic programs. Check out the details on our Varsity Letters page.

Whether a current student athlete who has recently earned a varsity letter, a student who has completed volunteering obligations, or a former student athlete who recalls their athletic career with great fondness, Varsity Letter Frames not only give varsity letters a place to be seen, but also enhance the look and add to the memories. Visit us at

Masuk High School Varsity Letter Fredonia Central High School Varsity Letter North Kingstown High School Varisty Letter
Masuk High School
Varsity Letter Frames in Omega
Fredonia Central High School
Varsity Letter Frame in Newport
North Kingstown High School
Varsity Letter Frame in Newport
Acalanes High School Varsity Letter Frame Pelham Memorial High School Varsity Letter Frames Newtown High School Varsity Letter Frame
Acalanes High School
Varsity Letter Frame in Southport
Pelham Memorial High School
Varsity Letter Frame in Omega
Newtown High School
Varsity Letter Frame in Newport

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