Varsity letters march their way to non-athletic extracurriculars

Emma Barofsky

Earning a position in a varsity sport is something coveted by high school athletes all across America. In some high schools, clubs and activities such as drama and choir are now offering their members the opportunity to secure varsity letters for their dedication.

Junior Abbey Reisler of Ocean Township said she has always had a strong passion for acting. She spends much of her time practicing for onstage performances and puts tremendous effort into each production. This incites consideration toward whether this commitment to drama club is deserving of a varsity jacket.

“I think that people that do drama club and band should get varsity letters because we put in the same amount of time as people who do athletics,” Reisler said.

According to, in May of 2017, former Governor Chris Christie signed a bill allowing non-athletes to receive varsity letters to help students feel more equal. Christie said that no high schooler should feel inferior to a varsity athlete when they participate in activities requiring the same amount of work.  

Sophomore Riley Forrester of Spring Lake Heights said that only athletes should receive varsity letters.  

“I’m not saying that non-athletes don’t work hard,” Forrester said. “But, people who play sports get hurt a lot and have traditionally always been the ones that get varsity jackets.”

The tradition of earning a varsity jacket goes back centuries. According to, athletes have been receiving varsity letters since 1865, when the Harvard University baseball team got the letter “H” sewn into their uniforms, which they could keep if they were starters.  

Freshman Drew Lepping of West Long Branch agrees with Forrester, and said that only athletes deserve varsity letters.

“I don’t think that people in drama and band should get varsity letters.  It’s not like band and drama have two levels of varsity and junior varsity. So, there isn’t as much competition,” Lepping said.

Reisler said that she goes to her home high school every day after school for a couple of hours to participate in drama club.

“I definitely agree with the rule that people in drama and band should be able to qualify to get a varsity letter,” Reisler said.

Even though some may disagree with Reisler’s opinion, non-athletes can still receive varsity letters in the state of New Jersey.