For several of the student athletes attending Austin High School, 231 N Pine Ave., the upcoming autumn season presents the perfect opportunity to show off both their school spirit and their own unheralded accomplishments within their field of sport.

Last July, 90 members of Austin High School’s junior and senior varsity teams received Letterman Jackets. It was the first such distribution at the school.

The jackets were handed out by the school’s basketball, football and track & field coaching staff as their way of giving back to the students who not only represented the most valued athletes at the school, but also the students who have managed to obtain success both in their sporting and academic endeavors.

“Ninety percent of the students who play varsity sports at the school graduate,” said Dr. Anthony Scott, principal of Austin Community Career Academy. “It is part of a strict policy not just as this school, but statewide.

“It is important that students who participate in sports keep their grades above passing and if not they are dropped from their respective team. So the jackets was their reward for getting the most out of their scholastic experience.”

The project began with a visit to the school by Rev. Lewis Flowers. While conferencing with several students, Rev. Flowers was informed by many of the junior and senior varsity players their desire to obtain their own AHS varsity jackets, to proudly display their individual accomplishments in their sport.

The Reverend passionately took up the cause. He contacted friends and businessmen through his Westside Ministers Coalition meetings in Columbus Park and set up fundraisers for the jackets.

It the end, the Reverend and the Austin Career Academy were able to raise more than $20,000, with $8,000 donated by McDonald’s, Planned Parenthood chipping in $1,000 and $5,000 gathered from school fundraisers.

The jackets were ordered from Hildebrand Sporting Goods, located at 1809 S. Roosevelt. They averaged about $200 apiece, depending on the students’ sizes.

“It was an unparalleled success,” said Scott. “Not to mention a huge life for the morale of the campus which is currently going through a transitional period.”

Scott said that student athletes who attend the small schools following Austin Academy’s acclimation to the Renaissance 2010 program will have individual teams within their departments. So there may be three different basketball teams representing the campus in the near future.

In the meantime, the current incarnation of the Austin High School Tigers Senior Varsity players proudly wear there jackets.

This month, the school presented Rev. Flowers with a plaque in recognition of his efforts.