Published on Saturday, February 11, 2012 by Emma Raleigh
At the beginning of freshman year, there’s a host of experiences and traditions incoming students look forward to like homecoming mums, spirit days, prom and letterman jackets.
While most athletes, musicians and club members are almost guaranteed jackets and patches as a reward for their hard work in their sport or hobby, other students are left with nothing to show for their accomplishments. For me, being a figure skater, it’s frustrating that I can’t letter just because skating isn’t recognized as a UIL sport.
In states such as California, students who surf are recognized by their school and while that is very much a region-specific sport, I think students who are involved in outside sports should at least be considered for recognition by schools. Other schools in northern states like New Jersey and Michigan have competitive figure skating teams and can earn the requisites for a letterman. It almost seems like students who choose to compete in sports outside the norm are penalized for their interests and and passions.
Another issue I have with not lettering is the fact that I receive school credit for skating. Instead of taking a P.E. class, I decided to utilize the time I spent skating and count my practice for off-campus P.E. Spending hours on the ice was never an issue for me, but when I had to commit to skating and skating-related workouts for fifteen hours every week, I knew I was doing as much, if not more practice than our football team. At the end of the year, I received a credit for skating, and if I did it for school, why shouldn’t I be able to letter?
If someone makes a varsity team for soccer, football, baseball or even choir, they automatically are qualified for a patch. There’s not even a patch available for my sport, and if I were to have a special one made, I wouldn’t have earned it. Buying a letter jacket doesn’t have the same impact as earning one. Even as I’m involved in school-sponsored clubs and organizations, the amount of points that are required to get a patch don’t fit into my busy schedule, which usually involves countless hours at the skating rink.
Lastly, the worst part about not being able to letter is the fact of how much I’ve done. I have qualified for two national competitions, have attended one, and plan to compete at another this year. Knowing that I can make a certain team, or get a certain score to letter while I work hard to just be able to compete at a national event, is almost infuriating.
Getting a letterman jacket is one of the things that high school athletes anticipate for years. It’s almost like a right of passage for them, and denying athletes that, even if it’s not school-sponsored, is wrong.