Have you received a high school varsity letter? What about a high school letterman jacket? Or, are you on a college team this year and hope to end the season on a high note by earning your varsity letter? This prestigious monogram, often constructed of felt and moss-stitched chenille, is awarded to high schoolers and college students who are considered outstanding athletes or elite performers.

So, what is a varsity letter? The varsity letter is a symbol of school spirit, community pride, and hard work. It’s a milestone achievement for students who’ve made the varsity sports team or excelled in academics or school-related activities like band, robotics, or the debate team. Read on to learn more about varsity letters and, perhaps most importantly, what to do with a varsity letter after graduation.

create a varsity letter frame
harvard university baseball team vintage photo

How Did the Varsity Letter Tradition Begin?

In 1865, Harvard University’s varsity baseball players embroidered the letter “H” to their jerseys, thereby creating the first “letterman jackets.” If you played in significant games during the season (like those against Yale or Princeton) and did well, you were allowed to keep the “H” uniform; if you didn’t do well, you would turn in your jersey at the end of the season. This is how the tradition of “earning” the letter began.

The varsity letter tradition was adapted by Harvard’s football team ten years later. Then in 1891, the baseball team transitioned to black varsity sweaters with a crimson “H” on the left breast. The letterman sweater trend eventually trickled into high schools with the earliest known example appearing on an Arizona student in the 1910 Phoenix Union High School yearbook sporting high school letterman jackets. By 1930, boiled-wool varsity jackets with leather sleeves came on the scene; it’s that same high school varsity jacket style, 90 years later, that we still see in high schools and colleges.

varsity letter examples you could frame

Even today, receiving a varsity letter is a big deal. It represents commitment, achievement, hard work, good sportsmanship, and athletic ability. In addition to demonstrating physical skill, the student must maintain a high grade-point average in order to receive this award. Most high schools host banquets, attended by parents, coaches, teachers, and fellow athletes, to acknowledge the students’ achievements and to present them with their varsity letters or high school jackets.

What Should You Do with Your Varsity Letter?

After all of the hard work you put into achieving it, it’s time to think about what you should do with your varsity letter. Pin it to your bulletin board? Add it to your scrapbook? Or, go the traditional route and sew it on a jacket or sweater? Today’s athletes and parents want an alternative to the high school varsity jacket, one that will preserve and protect that hard-earned award for years to come. Here’s an idea: Why not frame your varsity letter?
Not convinced? Here are a few of the benefits of framing your varsity letter along with how you can easily showcase it in your own home for decades to come.

Green varsity letter frame

Varsity Letter Framing

Framing your varsity letter allows you to safeguard it while showing off your achievement. The other options don’t let you do both. Plus, you don’t want something you worked so hard to earn to be damaged, get dirty, or to fade over time. Preserving this achievement in a frame with UV-protective glass will keep it in pristine condition. Best of all, you can hang it next to your high school diploma frame or special awards or certificate frames to create a handsome wall display of graduation frames.

Since they’re handcrafted with deep shadow box mouldings, our varsity letter frames have enough depth to accommodate pins, patches, and other small trinkets. Best of all, the frames are constructed with easy-open backs so you can add new pins and patches as you receive them, season after season. Just remove the varsity letter from the frame, place your pins and patches where you’d like, and then put your frame back up on the wall. It’s that simple, which also makes it a great option for high school and college students who might not be the most careful with their possessions!

create a varsity letter frame
varsity letter frames

Varsity Letter Frames for School Events

These sporty frames are perfect for gifting to graduating seniors and MVPs at end-of-year award banquets. In fact, most coaches and academic advisors prefer the personal significance of a custom letter frame to handing out “dime a dozen” plastic trophies to deserving students. What better way to celebrate an athlete’s dedication and teamwork than to put their hard-earned varsity letter on display?

While these frames are ideal for showcasing students’ athletic and academic achievements, they aren’t just for kids. Varsity letter frames make terrific recognition gifts for parents, mentors, and community leaders who’ve helped raise funds for school clubs or who’ve donated their time or services to student organizations. They’re also perfect for thanking assistant coaches for a memorable season or for acknowledging the retirement of beloved coaches, committee advisors, or athletic directors. As you can see, they truly make for a versatile gift for many occasions.

Varsity Letter Frame in Bedroom

Creating Your Custom Varsity Letter Frame

There are so many exciting ways to customize your varsity letter frame. You get to choose your frame moulding, mats representing your school colors, and embossed insignias in black, silver, or gold. You can even add a personalized silver or gold engraved nameplate or choose to have your state name, class year, or academic interest embossed below your letter. With the seemingly endless customization options, you can create a gift that is truly personalized to showcase your athlete’s achievements along with their personal style.

Deep Shadow Box Frame Mouldings

Choose from our five most popular shadow box mouldings. These sturdy frames provide plenty of room for your varsity letter and accompanying pins and patches.

Varsity Letter frame mouldings

Embossing Options for Your Varsity Letter Frame

Once you’ve decided on your moulding, select your top mat, inner accent, and background colors. You can choose a standard top mat or an elegant linen or suede top mat. Next, select an insignia for the top mat. Whether you received your letter for academics, fine arts, or a sport, you’ll find the perfect insignia to complement your letter. Use our online customization tools to visualize which embossing, gold, silver, or black, works best with your top mat color and what will make the varsity letter pop.

Embossed Insignias
create a varsity letter frame

High School & College Graduation Frames

Need a graduation gift for a high school or college senior? Design a varsity letter frame! It’s guaranteed to become a special family keepsake, one they’ll be excited to have hanging in their bedroom, displayed in the family room, or incorporated into the decor of their first apartment. Plus, you can personalize the engraved nameplate with a heartfelt sentiment that they’ll treasure always.


If you’re an athletic director or coach looking for gifts for your MVPs or graduating seniors, we can create a custom-designed insignia featuring your team mascot or school logo. For more information,  fill out our Varsity Letter form and our  High School Rep will be in touch to help you navigate creating your custom varsity letter frame!

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