Earning Honor; Athletics department defines meaning of varsity letter, ways of obtaining one

Award Acceptance:
Sloan Goldblatt, football player and senior, poses with his father after receiving his varsity letter. Goldblatt said the varsity letter was a goal and represented leadership and hard work.

Sloan Goldblatt Submitted Photo

Award Acceptance: Sloan Goldblatt, football player and senior, poses with his father after receiving his varsity letter. Goldblatt said the varsity letter was a goal and represented leadership and hard work.

Jess Canaley

Earning a varsity letter at  any school represents hard work and athletic talent. At CHS, student athletes involved in both Indiana High School Athletics Association (IHSAA) sports as well as Unified Sports have the opportunity to earn a letter. Senior Sloan Goldblatt has played football for 13 years as of the 2018 season and has been involved with Special Olympics for five years. Goldblatt said depending on the activity, the meaning behind obtaining a letter can change.

“I think (receiving a varsity letter) was a goal for me, for football especially, just because of the competitive nature of football and wanting to reach the varsity level. When it comes to Unified Sports, it was more about helping people out, but the letter was just sort of a perk on the side,” Goldblatt said. “I think getting a varsity letter in either one represents leadership and hard work.”

Ken Browner, head coach of the men’s track and field team, oversees around 250 athletes on a daily basis. According to Browner, the qualifications to earn a letter in track and field are rather clear cut. An athlete must have 20 varsity points or have competed and won an event at county or win the conference.

“Our way of selecting varsity is pretty straightforward. You either have the faster time than the other kid, or you jump higher, or throw further. For the varsity roster to be filled out, it’s basically the top three times, jumps or throws,” Browner said.

According to Athletics Director Jim Inskeep, head coaches set varsity letter requirements and the athletic office reviews them to verify consistency between sports. Exceptions to these requirements exist in special cases at the discretion of the coach.

“Across the board, they’re pretty consistent, meaning you have to play a certain number of contests or a percentage of a contest during the season at the varsity level,” Inskeep said. “If they don’t meet the requirements, it can be given at the discretion of the coach. For example, if a senior cross-country runner has been on the team for four years, but has never been a varsity runner, typically those are the students who would receive a letter at the end of their senior year. They have earned the right to get a varsity letter through their contributions to the program.”

Maddie Kosc
A CHS varsity letter includes the sport and the year the letter was obtained.

Goldblatt said the lessons and effort behind earning a letter is more important than the physical letter itself.

“I think (being at CHS) has taught me that getting a letter is important to an athlete, but it’s not the most important thing. Getting a letter is obviously a way to show that you’ve excelled on the field, but being able to learn the life lessons from sports, whether it’s Unified or IHSAA varsity sports, is really the most important part,” Goldblatt said.

With around 1,500 student athletes at CHS, the standards to achieve the varsity title may vary; however, the honor carried with earning a letter is universal.

“It has to be earned. I think a varsity letter should mean something. It should be reflective of your contributions to the varsity team,” Inskeep said. “Our standards may not be the same as others, but they’re pretty close amongst the larger schools.”

Browner said he agrees, noting the sense of accomplishment that comes with earning a letter.

“It’s no different than getting a medal in a meet or earning your blue ribbon; you have to earn that. It’s a sense of accomplishment that they’ve achieved,” Browner said.

No matter what sport students choose to get involved with, Goldblatt encourages everyone to try a sport.

Goldblatt said, “If you have the chance, whether it’s an IHSAA varsity sport or Unified Sports, go out and do it. Whether you’re playing, or helping out, assistant coaching, being a trainer or manager, whatever it is, get involved.”