High School Varsity Sports

Zoomie wannabee

10-Year Member
5-Year Member
Sep 5, 2007

I am a prospective USAFA cadet currently about to complete my first semester of my junior year. I have been following many posts on this and other forums and noticed that many (most, in my perspective) candidates/candidates-to-be have participated in a varsity level sport of some kinda and have lettered in them (many prospective candidates have letter in multiple sports).

I am aware that the AFA website states that 83 percent of cadets have received at least one varsity letter in sports. But does not participating in a sport lower your chances of obtaining an appointment?

The academy assigns points for ecs, including sports
So... If I'm not participating in sports but other activites I'm fair game? I participate in my AFJROTC drill team, and when I joined I committed to doing that. It is a year-round extra curricular so it takes away my chances to participate in a school sport. I am also a regionally ranked irish dancer so does that count for anything? What I suppose I'm trying to ask is how did the other 17% of cadets chosen?
Not having athletics is a negative. Your candidate score will be based on all of your ECs, but if you do not have any athletics on your record it will hurt.
Zoomie, its always a hard thing to try to look into admissions and guess how they would see your file. We know that there are kids at academies with no high school sports letters. They had things in their files that the academies thought notable enough to offer appointments. To what degree not having lettered will effect your file is the larger question probably. Obviously, you can claim to be dedicated through being a dancer & on your AFJROTC drill team. Be glad you have those two things to offer up & that they show you compete in things. It might help the end result.
I think what the Admissions Board is looking for in a file is evidence that a candidate is capable of handling the physical as well as mental demands that the Academy places on an individual. They are looking for a candidate who is can take on several things at once, and complete all of them satisfactorily. They are also looking for leadership potential. For most of the applicants, this evidence is shown to the Board in varsity athletics. The board sees a candidate who can balance school, homework, and athletic practices almost daily, and still excel.
I think the reason that most accepted candidates have varsity sports in their resume is because it is the most common extracurricular activity that shows the traits that the Board is looking for.
Like Jamzmom said, the other 17% have something in their file which the Board sees as an indicator of success at the Academy. In your case, Zoomie wannabe, I would think that both your AFJROTC drill and your dance would be looked on favorably. Dance is very demanding physically, and I am sure that Board is aware of that. Of course, no one on here can say for sure what the Board will decide about any given candidate.
I hope that helps explain it somewhat.

Also, welcome to this forum, and feel free to ask any more questions.

Thank you Stealth, that helped clear up some concerns. I suppose it is difficult to say what the admissions board will think of you, or what truly is "enough". Thank you again though :thumb:
In addition to the obvious, being on an athletic team teaches a lot more. It teaches teamwork, putting the team ahead of self. It teaches one how to act in adversity. It teaches grace and maturity, both in victory and defeat. The list goes on and on. It also teaches this in a very short span. All of the above can be demonstrated in a single game. This cannot happen with either jobs or other extracurriculars. Rumor is that WP even values team sports higher than individual sports such as track and swimming.
My take -

Athletics are important - earning a Varsity Letter is important.
For all the reasons that USNA69 stated above plus the obvious reasons of fitness and that you will be playing sports at any of the SA's.

Striving for a Varsity Letter - shows that you can perform at a high level.
I think most kids who don't have a varsity letter have a "subsittute" - like Hornetguy.

IMO - your dance experience would fall into that category - as perhaps your AFROTC drill team. Both those activities give you some of the same benefits of say playing varsity soccer.
Go with it - it is who you are and let admissions decide.

One more thing - the SA's are looking for the student who fits a scholar/athlete/leader model. I used to joke with my daughter that she was competing against the kid who was the "varsity q-back, point guard, pitcher, class president, NHS president, with a 4.0 who took 8 AP classes a year".
HaHa -
they know most kids will be pretty good in 1 or 2 areas and excel in 1 or 2 areas. Those who are extremely athletic can get by being a pretty good scholar. Those who are super leaders don't necessarily need to be olympic athletes.
If you go into this with no or few athletics you better be bringing something else really good to the table.
Wonder why some JROTC units give letters and others don't? Rifle & Drill team both letter here but is that just our local school? Could be its just NJROTC? This whole topic starting me wondering. Anyone know or have other examples?
Actually my AFJROTC unit does award letters for Drill Team. You can get it by keeping grades above a "B" overall and and "A" grade in JROTC. You also have to be on the drill team for at least 2 years and have made a positive contribution to the team. So its definently I'm striving for. It is considered by the school as a "varsity letter" but does it have the same clout as say a football varsity letter? I'm guessing a major school sport would have more pull than a smaller school extra curricular (after all, Football is America's Game!).
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I'm not sure how the academy would view a drill team for a sport. It is definitely a good EC, but it does not hold the same position as an athletic sport in most people's eyes.