This country, this world, this society as a whole is male-dominated, and because of that, women have historically been last in accomplishing things that we today deem as your average every day feat. In 1920, women were finally given the right to vote, after men had already been doing so for years. In 1974, women could finally open a bank account without permission from their husband, or closest male relative. Believe it or not, the most prestigious Ivy League university in the United States, Harvard, did not accept female applicants until 1977.
One year prior, the female athletes at another university made their own history and changed it forever.
The University of Michigan has been known as a NCAA Division I powerhouse for decades. The Wolverines recruit hundreds of student athletes every year by convincing them to “Go Blue,” but in the 1970s, some of Michigan’s female athletes were questioning whether they had made the right choice in school.
After successfully organizing inaugural sports clubs at Michigan, pioneering field hockey player Sheryl Szady, suggested that women receive varsity awards, which included letterman jackets. Unfortunately, not everyone thought that was a good idea. Coaches and other male athletic administration were opposed to the ladies receiving them, but that did not discourage the Lady Wolverines.
In the summer of 1975, on behalf of the ladies before, during and after her time at Michigan, Szady took her case before the Board of Control at the University and with much reluctance; female athletes were granted varsity letterman jackets. The ladies were victorious, they were equal with the men, or so they thought. When the jackets were distributed the following school year, the female athletes were shocked to find that their jackets were in fact, not the same. The classic maize colored ‘M’ emblazoned on the chests of all male varsity athletes, was described as “Dorito orange” in color and much smaller in size for the women.
How could this be? The ladies won the vote.
Tennis player Marissa Pollick played for the Wolverines and she like many others were stunned when she received the jacket. The same day she received it is the same day she went to the athletic department to try to make some sense of it all. A female administrator who worked in the department explained that since the women were smaller in physical stature, they received smaller letters. That same day she also decided to not wear her varsity letterman jacket. Ever.
Years went by and the Lady Wolverines, after nearly 2 decades of feeling unequal to their male counterparts, finally started receiving the same letterman jackets with the classic block style, maize colored ‘M’ in 1992.
While some saw the letterman jacket as “just a jacket,” it symbolized something. Like most athletes, the women wanted something to display their hard work and accomplishments. They earned it.
Like the Lady Wolverines, United Sport Apparel believes that all varsity athletes and club members deserve to look and feel their best in their jackets, which is why we take pride in every custom made jacket we make.