Varsity Letters for Michigan Teams

I am with team 3234, and we are currently working with our school’s principal to get a varsity letter set up for our students. However, in creating the criteria, my principal is uncomfortable with how to set it up and wants some examples of other Michigan schools that give a letter to their robotics students.
Is there anyone out there on a MI team that gives out varsity letters? And if so, how does you school have it set up for the criteria of who qualifies to receive the letter? Please post or send me a message so I can get some of the students on my team to, if not this year, start getting varsity letters next year for their hard work in a sport of the mind.

Here’s our patch. (please don’t mind the physics homework) We use the logo instead of an actual letter, it’s a bit unorthodox but it seems pretty cool.

Take a look at what Bedford Express had compiled.

My team isn’t from Michigan, but we’ve been lettering students for the past 9 years. We created a set of requirements designed to help the team - attendance, leadership, outreach are the big ones. Not everyone letters, which is fine, but enough do, and we’ve seen measurable Iimprovements in the team each time we tweak the requirements. This year, I think 15/23 students completed the lettering requirements. Let me know if you want our specific requirements from this past year, I’m not sure how your school would view a set of requirements from outside the state.

At our school, the criteria if you are on the robotics team is either two years on the team or 200 build season hours.

To be completely honest, I wish it was harder to get just to motivate students more. Varsity letters really aren’t as big of a deal if it isn’t hard to get them in my opinion.

1 Like

Royal Oak High School began issuing varsity letters last year after a study was completed by the School Board on establishing criteria to evaluate any team’s desire to receive a varsity letter. I was not part of the study so unfortunately cannot provide the criteria that was established. Based on my limited experience on this matter I think you should consider the following:

  1. The principal, most likely, will not be able to issue varsity letters without consulting with the schools central office and/or school board approval.

  2. You may receive negative feedback about having a varsity letter issued to robotics if your high school doesn’t already issue varsity letters for band or other school activities not associated with traditional MHSAA sports. This was not our case, per se, but may be a big issue for your approval route depending on the personal viewpoint of the high school athletic director.

  3. Your desire to grant/issue a varsity letter may raise the larger issue of who should receive the letter at your high school causing some kind of study to determine which activities qualify at your high school.

  4. There may be a side issue that you hadn’t considered regarding your team’s coach’s pay. Once your robotics team becomes varsity status, I think a good argument can be made that the coach deserves to be paid as a varsity coach per your teacher’s union bargaining agreement in Schedule B. Just this week I submitted paperwork indicating that the RO varsity coach pay should be raised to the average of the 10 high school varsity team coaches. Although I don’t coach robotics because of the coach’s pay, for fairness, I think my pay should be in the ballpark of other varsity coaches. This may also help other coaches to consider the position in the future.

Pioneer High School / FRC 1076 Pi Hi Samurai gives out varsity letters. They are reletively rigorous to attain though (only about 10 of the 48 students on the team will qualify), involving excellent attendance in build sessions, competitions, and volunteering.
Most of the team was rookies this year so I predict this number will rise next year.

Our school gives us normal letters- It’s basically the same system as athletics. For our robotics team (3618-Petoskey Paladins), if you put in the time throughout the build season and show dedicated leadership/workmanship qualities, then the lead mentors/coaches can decide whether or not you would be eligible for a letter. As a side note, students on our team can only receive ONE “varsity” letter during their time on the team.

Is that the same limitation for all varsity teams?

My team, COMETS just started varsity letters last year. (Our schools also give out varsity letters for things like theater and band.) Our criteria is basically- second year or longer on the team, must attend about 80% of the meetings, attend at least two competitions (I think), display leadership, and is a very involved member on the team. Almost everyone gets a letter if they’ve been on the team for longer than a year (or at least they did last year). But the mentors go through and make sure everyone who qualifies for attendance put forth a lot of effort during build season and didn’t just goof around.

At my high school, a repeat year of meeting the criteria for a letter received a small bar that was sewn onto the letter. Lettering in multiple disciplines would lead to different icons sewn onto the letter.

That’s how it has been at all the school I have attended/worked. It just sounded like he was saying something different.

From our Handbook.
(We also have a one letter rule in place at the school)

Varsity Letter Requirements for FIRST Team 2137, TORC Robotics

An Oxford High School Competitive Activities Varsity Letter can be earned in Robotics. The letter recognizes the student for their Teamwork, Excellence, Achievement, Commitment and Honor (TEACH).

Varsity letter students work together to excel, achieve goals through commitment and represent their organization honorably. As a Varsity letter robotics student, teamwork is crucial to achieving team goals and the time commitment required is large. The student is expected to represent TORC and Oxford High School honorably at all team functions.

Students who meet the following requirements will be awarded the Varsity Letter.

 Two “complete years” of “active participation” on FIRST Team 2137, TORC.
(A “complete year” is defined as the time frame from September to the beginning of May.“Active Participation” includes productive contribution at meetings, participating in Team 2137 FIRST Support activities, attending community service events and assisting in fundraising.

 A first year team member who is a senior is eligible for the Varsity letter if they meet all the requirements.

(This means that they must join the team in September and they must fulfill all the required participation activities noted hereafter.)

 GPA: minimum of 2.0

(Because participation in Oxford High School competitive teams requires the student to maintain a minimum GPA, the requirement extends to the Varsity letter. Students are encouraged to seek help from fellow team members and mentors if you are struggling with a course. Team meetings are a good time to receive this assistance. The teacher mentor will be in charge of keeping abreast of student GPA. If the student has an IEP which accommodates the GPA, the Teacher Sponsor will address it.)

 Adherence to the Oxford School District Code of Conduct and FIRST Team 2137 TORC student handbook.

 Attendance: Students must attend 65% of the total team meetings from September – May (“complete year”)

(Dual activity students are students who participate in two school activities during same time frame, ie. sports, band, choir, etc. These students will need to let the Team Contact Mentor know that they are a dual activity student. The student must email or submit to the Team Coordinator a copy of their practice/game or performance schedule prior to missing any TORC meetings. We will accommodate absences due to a game or performance. The student will need to balance absences due to practices/meetings between the two activities. Since most activities hold practice/meetings immediately after school and TORC meetings do not begin until 6:30pm, it is suggested that you make every effort to attend the portion of the TORC meeting that remains after your second activity practice has ended.)

 FIRST Support Activities: Students must participate in 25% of team activities that support FIRST and our efforts to spread the message of FIRST. (These often occur outside the Sept.-May time frame because build season is focused on building the robot.)

(Examples of activities that fall into this category: Volunteering time with our elementary Lego League teams and/or our middle school FTC team; Volunteering at FLL competitions or FRC competitions; Presenting FIRST and TORC to elementary/middle schools and to current/potential sponsors; representing the team at freshmen orientation and middle school recruitment; sponsor appreciation BBQ)

 Community Outreach: Students must participate in 25% of the team community outreach opportunities. (These often occur outside the Sept.-May time frame because build season is focused on building the robot.)

(This can include an activity that two or more Team 2137 members attend wearing the team t-shirt and speaking to others about Team 2137 and FIRST.

Examples of activities that fall into this category: Girlfriends Walk, Team displays at community events like Backyards & Burgers or Celebrate Oxford, marathons, etc. Students are encouraged to research and present the team with opportunities to support/serve others.)

 Fundraising: Students must participate in 25% of the team fundraising opportunities. (These often occur outside the Sept.-May time frame because build season is focused on building the robot.)

(Fundraising is extremely important because robotics requires approximately $50,000/yr to fully fund team activities, competition fees, travel expenses, robot parts and tools/equipment. Although we have sponsors who donate funds, they expect us to also make efforts to raise funds. Examples of prior fundraisers: Achatz Pies, Dippin Dots, DQ coupon books, scrapbooking marathon, FIRST light bulbs, cotton candy, can drives, charity poker, Bass Pro gift wrapping, etc.For events that require a volunteer to be 21, credit will be awarded for the student when an adult works on their behalf.)

The student will have a form or card (physical or electronic) to record their participation for fulfilling the requirements.

-It will be the student’s responsibility to record their attendance at team meetings and have that verified by a mentor signature/initials. (Failure to do so will result in an absence. Students will not be allowed to have a mentor sign off on attendance the day following a meeting. The goal is to develop responsibility in the student and to keep meetings focused on activities for that day.)

-It will be the student’s responsibility to ensure that the mentor supervising a fundraising, community outreach or FIRST support event verify their participation. (Because the student record will not travel to events, the student will need to record the event in their record and have one of the supervising mentors for that event, validate the student’s participation by signing/initialing the record. This will need to be done at a team meeting and within one week of the event.)

-Students may not record and/or receive signatures/initials for another student. (Again, the goal is to develop responsibility in each student.)

-Activities completed by the student in May-August will count toward the following season’s requirements. (Varsity letters will be awarded in early June, therefore, the requirements must be met by the end of April for that season in order to allow time for recording to tabulated.)

-If a first year student shows exemplary attendance at the four categories listed above and makes outstanding contributions to the team and displays strong leadership among their peers, they may be eligible for recommendation to the building principal for the Varsity Letter.

Order of pins/letters earned:

• Each year before the student earns the Varsity Letter, they will receive the pin for that season’s game.
• Once a minimum of two complete years have passed, the student will be awarded the Varsity Letter, if the requirements have been met.
• The 1 st year after earning the Varsity Letter, the student will receive the TORC pin.
• The 2 nd year after earning the varsity letter, the student will receive a chevron.

Team 3641 Varsity Letter Requirements:

Foundation Requirements:
o Must be eligible per SLCS Board Policy (see member in good standing)
o Must maintain academic eligibility throughout the whole year
o Must be a member in good standing
o Min GPA 2.3
Application Requirement: Students must submit an application to the team by April 30th to be considered for earning a Varsity Letter.
Performance Requirements:

  1. Participation:
  • Attend all (4) Mandatory Meetings.
  • Meeting Journal
  • Best Practices White Paper
  1. Community: (8) documented hours of team outreach and community service (prior authorization in writing required) by April 15th (time to process before Banquet and passing out of letter).
  2. Fundraising: Must meet minimum sponsorship requirements by required date AND (1) attempt to approach community through contacting (a) business (documented by signed sponsorship letter and business card)* Effective for 2016-2017 season.
  3. Competition: Attend 7 full days (kick-off, 2-district competitions of three days each) If you are unable to attend our competition(s), you can make up missed competitions days to earn your letter thru volunteering at other FIRST competitions .aka FTC, FRC, FLL– No matter what venue you attend, you are responsible to sign in and sign out in the LOG BOOK in order to receive credit.

Member is Good Standing:

• Must be eligible per SLCS Board Policy.
o Eligibility per student handbook – This includes academic Eligibility as below:

o Pay to participate fee paid.
o Follow the student handbook at all times.
• Must be registered on the team.
o Team Database
• Membership Fees must be paid by the designated date.
• Sponsorships required by the designated date.
• If a team member is absent for more than 25%, but less than 50% of the team meetings, even if the absences are excused, his/her parents or guardian will be contacted to discuss whether or not the student and/or the team will benefit from his/her continued participation in the program. If a team member is absent for more than 50% of the team meetings, even if the absences are excused, the team member will be dropped from the team.
• Parent, Guardian, or Representative and student must attend the (4) mandatory meetings.
• Meets team member expectations as posted.
• Two (2) hours of documented outreach by Robot Bag & Tag date.
• Responsible for their own attendance record & competitions
o Team Log Book
o Both Sign In-Sign out
o Parent Sign-out at Competitions
• Coaches may, in extreme cases and at their discretion, modify parameters of good standing.
• Subject to change by Steering Committee

The way our team works is if one has been on the team for two years then they get a varsity letter. For the letter itself we have a choice between the school letter or our team logo.
For team logo it would be the gear flake (my profile picture).

Thank you everyone for your most helpful responses. I have finished compiling all of the examples to bring to a meeting with the Principal, and she will then act as the team’s advocate to the school board. Thank you all for your support, and I will keep you posted on the Team’s status for instituting a varsity letter program. Thanks!

Although my team isn’t Michigan, in Connecticut my team has a system where we get one for every 2 years involved in the team, so if you start as a freshman then you get 1 letter and a pin, in your FRC career. Hope you can get yours too.


That sounds really awesome. Having levels higher than the letter are awesome.
I’m wondering, how do you keep track of all that data on each student? Just one person tracking attendance, participation, and events throughout the year?

Interesting article about varsity letters for volunteering.