The Coast Guard Rugby Foundation launched a fundraising effort this month in honor of Women’s History Month, to support the Coast Guard Service Rugby Teams and the Coast Guard Foundation spouse grant program.
Last year, to honor the 80th anniversary of the U.S. Coast Guard Women’s Reserve, the Coast Guard Rugby Foundation designed a team jersey for the New York Rugby Sevens tournament.
The U.S. Coast Guard Reserve was established in 1942 in support of World War II. The all-female branch of the Coast Guard Reserves was known as the SPARS because of the acronym Semper Paratus – Always Ready, the service’s motto. The purpose of the branch was to activate women into service for shore-side assignments so men could serve overseas in the war effort.
“The SPARS jersey was so well received we decided to offer it again this year to help raise additional funds for the service rugby teams and the Coast Guard Foundation spouse grant program,” said Dan MacLeod, Coast Guard Rugby Foundation board member. “We are proud to shine a bright light on the service of SPARS to our country and highlight their lasting impact for all who serve in the Coast Guard today.”
Offered at $100 per jersey, a portion of each sale will be donated to the Coast Guard Foundation’s rugby service team support program and the Coast Guard Foundation spouse grant program.
The jersey design was inspired by World War II SPAR recruitment posters and incorporates symbols of women’s service in the Coast Guard, including:
- blue collar representing the SPARS officer lace;
- right sleeve featuring the stars of the Cutter Dorothy Stratton (WMSL-752), LORAN Unit 21, Cutter Olivia Hooker (WPC-1157), and the Cutter Florence Finch (WPC-1163);
- left sleeve showcasing the Coast Guard racing stripes of the two cutters named SPAR (WLB-403 and WLB-206);
- and numbers on the back featuring the red and white stripes of the American flag.
The rugby jersey showcases the trailblazing service of four SPARS, including Capt. Dorothy Stratton, the first director of the SPARS, Petty Officer 1st Class Dorothy Tuttle, the first female to enlist in the Coast Guard; Lt. j.g. Vera Hamerschlag, commanding officer of LORAN Unit 21, the first all-woman military unit; Petty Officer 2nd Class Olivia Hooker, the first female African-American enlisted member; and Seaman 2nd Class Florence Finch, the first Asian-American woman to enlist in the service.
Rugby Foundation heritage jerseys may be ordered until April 15, with shipping expected to occur by the end of May.