Marking the boundaries

Matthew Halpin, Sports Editor

   Varsity letters represent commitment, dedication and perseverance. But just because an athlete expresses those qualities doesn’t necessarily mean they will receive a letter. The ultimate deciding factor?

  The activity they participate in.

  Trinity students are very capable when it comes to balancing academics and athletics. Varsity letters are a great way for a school to award their students for their commitment in extracurricular activities. While every extracurricular would like to earn varsity letters, schools have personalized requirements as to who earns varsity letters. For Trinity, these letters are given to any extracurricular activity that falls under the athletic department.

  Three years ago, the Trinity athletic department adopted cheerleading to the list of extracurriculars that receive varsity letters. The Florida High School Athletics Association (FHSAA) qualifies competitive cheerleading as a high school sport. Although Trinity’s cheerleading team is not competitive, the school has made exceptions to award them varsity letters.

  “Competitive cheerleading has not always been an FHSAA sanctioned sport, so years ago it was considered a club and it wasn’t a part of the athletic department because the athletic director at the time felt like it shouldn’t be because it wasn’t sanctioned,” said Dennis Herron, former Athletic Director and current Assistant Head of School.  

  When competitive cheerleading became an FHSAA sport, Trinity decided that they had no real desire to compete. They believed that cheerleading was deserving of a varsity letter, despite the fact that they don’t compete in the competitive aspect of the sport.

  “In the last couple years, we decided it’s an FHSAA sanctioned sport, let’s move it back to athletics,” Herron said.

  Drumline is another example of a Trinity extracurricular activity that does not meet the FHSAA requirements, but the school still awards its members varsity letters. While drumline is typically associated with arts, it can also be grouped with athletics.

  “There is a physical component,” Rodgers said. “Our members are being asked to carry instruments that weigh anywhere from 10 to 40 pounds while coordinating movement with their hands and feet, all while performing outside in the Florida heat. There is a team aspect as well. We all have to work together to ensure that our look and sound is correct.”

   Trinity’s cheerleading team and drumline are both non FHSAA sports that still are awarded varsity letters from the school. It is unclear if the athletic department will move other extracurricular activities to their department. If they do end up expanding the athletic department, then many other extracurriculars would be eligible to earn varsity letters.

  Why extracurriculars such as forensics, history bowl team, chess team, and others don’t earn varsity letters is a fair question. Similar to cheerleading and drumline, neither of these activities earn varsity letters. The athletic department says they don’t earn varsity letters because letters are only awarded to sports teams.

  “The letter that’s awarded that we’re talking about is awarded by the athletic department, so only sports teams are what we’re talking about,” Herron said. “An extracurricular club such as chess club or something in that nature, we don’t award letters for that, because a letter is associated with athletic participation and somewhat with the booster club.”  

   At the end of the day, varsity letters aren’t just a certificate of achievement. They can also be valuable when applying for college because they show commitment and dedication.

   “A varsity letter signifies commitment and what it means to be a Saint,” Langdon said.