The Varsity Jacket, an Andover Staple, Remains a Symbol of School Pride


The traditional varsity jacket is an expression of school pride for high schools across the United States. The design of Andover’s varsity jacket, however, reveals the uniqueness of the school through its commitment to tradition. 

When a student has qualified for a varsity jacket and wishes to obtain one, they email Anthony Kodis, Athletic Equipment Manager. Kodis noted that while the material of the jacket has changed, the designs have endured because of the school’s longstanding embroiderer.

“Many years ago, they were full wool varsity jackets — leather-sleeved wool jackets with white leather sleeves. The artwork has always stayed the same, the plain block on the back, the embroidery on the front and the names. It’s always been the same woman who’s been doing it for about 30 years, maybe even a little bit longer, but the jackets went from a button jacket to a quarter zip pullover,” said Kodis.

By upholding some of the traditional designs of the varsity jacket, Andover has set itself apart from its peer schools. Kodis explained how the jackets are uniquely personalized to Andover.

“Most prep schools that do these types of jackets usually do a standardized logo on the front and possibly a standardized name on the back, of the school. Sometimes they’ll put the sport, and sometimes they don’t. Here at Andover, we have been using the same embroiderer, and she has been able to give us the flexibility of putting more than one sport on the front, sport specific, whether you partake in crew or cross country or soccer or multiple sports throughout the three seasons that we have here,” said Kodis.

Kodis continued, “On the back of the jackets, instead of using an athletic block artwork, we actually use a plain block. We’re the only school that does that with the stitching on the back, which makes it very unique and more traditional than a lot of the standard uses and styles that other schools use,”

According to Leon Modeste, Director of Athletics, the varsity jacket is not just a symbol of athletic pride, but of school pride in general.

“I think it’s to show Andover pride, and in that case athletic, but I’ve seen other groups on campus have similar jackets and then they’ll put Andover Dance or Math, but I think it’s school pride and also recognition of ‘Hey, I achieved something because I’ve got this letter on there, and that shows you’re a varsity athlete,’” said Modeste.

Recently, Kodis has observed a boost in jacket purchases as it has been extended beyond the limits of varsity sports to include other activities.

“I have seen a spike over the last four or five years with us being open to more sports and more activities and different things like that, enabling the students to be able to be more included with everything,” said Kodis.

For Hayden Gura ’20 of Andover Boys Tennis, the varsity jacket is a symbol of pride both on campus and at home.

“I think that the varsity jacket represented a part of my pride of being on the tennis team and my friends at the school, and I felt part of something. I know I probably wear my varsity jacket more when I’m not at school than when I’m at school because I walk around and I’m proud of my school, and it also works in every season, which is nice,” said Gura.

Brooklyn Wirt ’21 of Andover Girls Volleyball and Basketball offered a similar sentiment, noting that her jacket is a component of her identity on campus.

“To me, my varsity jacket is just another way to identify with the smaller community of people on my sports teams. Having one doesn’t make someone superior. It’s a way to show an accomplishment that I’m proud of, and it’s a way to represent Andover when I’m not here at school,” said Wirt.