Plaque: Kentucky-Dawahares High School Sports Hall of Fame

1961 Micheal B. Minix, Sr., M.D., Paintsville KY High School letter sweater with 20 letters earned in 4 sport activities.

“A letterman, male or female, in U.S. activities/sports, is a high school or college student who has met a specified level of participation or performance on a varsity team.

The term letterman / letterfemale comes from the practice of awarding each such participant a cloth “letter”, which is usually the school’s initial or initials, for placement on a “letter sweater” or “letter jacket” intended for the display of such an award. In some instances, the sweater or jacket itself may also be awarded, especially for the initial award to a given individual. [Gallagher, Jake. [Dropping Knowledge: The Varsity Jacket, 31 May 2014 Wikipedia]

“A varsity letter (or monogram) is an award earned in the US for excellence in school activities. A varsity letter signifies that its winner was a qualified varsity team member, awarded after a certain standard was met.

“The award letter is usually made in the colors and initials representing the school that the recipient attends. The letter patch is primarily constructed of chenille and felt materials. Standard sizes range from 4 inches (102 mm) to 8 inches (203 mm). While 4 inches (102 mm) and 5 inches (127 mm) usually denote Junior Varsity achievements, 6 inches (152 mm) to 8 inches (203 mm) would denote full (Senior) Varsity.

The stitching style used for creating the chenille look is called a moss stitch, while the outlining sew down is called a chain stitch.

“With the advent of organized sports, there was a need for uniforms. There was an additional need for identifications which was satisfied by the use of emblems or letters.

“In 1865, the Harvard baseball team added an Old English ‘H’. The ‘H’ was embroidered on the gray flannel shirt. The football team started to use the ‘H’ in 1875. For 25 years following the introduction in 1865 of the letter, it was the practice for the team captain to allow certain players who played in the most important games (Yale or Princeton) to keep the ‘H’ jerseys as an award.

“It is not known when the letter sweater came to high schools. The earliest known example of a letter sweater in a high school is found in the 1911 yearbook of Phoenix Union High School, Arizona Territory. A student in a group photo is pictured, not in football uniform, wearing a v-neck sweater with the letter ‘P’ on the left side.

“The sweater seems to be the home of the award letter from the 1890s until the 1930s. Another award during the 1920s and 1930s was a stadium style blanket given as an award. In the 1930s, the letter award started to appear on leather sleeved, wool-bodied jackets. The jackets from the 1930s were different in design than today’s modern jacket  [History of the Letter Award Tradition, October 17, 2009 Wikipedia]

Nowadys, high school varsity letters are not awarded to middle school students and athletes as thery once were in the ‘ole days’. Although some do. Additionally, some high school athletic associations only recognize activity participations and award letters and records for the 4 years in high school and possibly other requirements.

if the reader knows of an athlete or student, who earned, in any combination of activities and/or sports, 20+ high school letters,while in grade, middle and high school, please place his or her name in the survey, by submitting all information to the comments below in this publication, the individual’s complete name, high school name, number of letters in each activity and sport, years for each letter, along with the Athletes picture, and picture of their award varsity letter with 20 or more letters attached to a sweater, jacket or by itself unattached, records, data, news paper article, history etc. The results from this survey will be posted on this publication in the future.

Thank you,

May 1961 High School All-Amerca Game.              2nd Photo 1960 PHS Senior

Missile running football.                                              PHS Basketball Photo 1961



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