Hero Image
Its origins wear history’s shroud, based in fact but steeped in lore. Done to some extent at Sac State for many decades, Stingers Up! has gained significant popularity and usage under current President Robert S. Nelsen. Stingers Up!, Nelsen once humorously wrote, “is a tradition born out of ancient times but perfected by Sac State.”
graphic element, Sac State logo

Getting a grip on collegiate hand signals

Brian Blomster

Stingers Up!


If you’re a Sacramento State Hornet, it speaks for itself: the extended pinky and the rumbling roar of those two words (with exclamation point!) rolling through stadiums, arenas, ballrooms – basically wherever Sac State supporters gather.

Its origins wear history’s shroud, based in fact but steeped in lore. Done to some extent at Sac State for many decades, Stingers Up! has gained significant popularity and usage under current President Robert S. Nelsen. Stingers Up!, Nelsen once humorously wrote, “is a tradition born out of ancient times but perfected by Sac State.”

We know that Texas gets plenty of credit as home country for collegiate hand signs. And it’s true that you can’t toss a rock in Texas without hitting a Longhorn or Aggie or Red Raider flashing a sign and shouting in support of something. But hand signs long ago caught on elsewhere.

Here are other notable hand signs from universities across the country. We argue for Sac State’s preeminence – but judge for yourself.

Texas Longhorns: Hook ’em Horns. Make a fist, then extend index finger and pinky. Reminds one of a bull’s horns. A Texas longhorn bull, named Steamfitter or Bone Dust or Mayhem’s Daddy. Don’t make this sign while shouting “Boomer Sooners.”

UC Irvine Anteaters: Touch thumb tip to the tips of middle and ring fingers pushed away from the palm, with index finger and pinky extended. It looks like an anteater’s head, sort of. Or not. Done while shouting the classic battle cry, “Rip ’em, ‘Eaters!” (Note: North Carolina State uses the same sign to indicate a wolf’s head, since they are the Wolfpack.) 

Florida Gators: Gator Chomp. Extend arms in front of you, one above the other below, at an approximate 45 degree angle (fingers curled away from the palms, like teeth). Then bring them together, like a ‘gator chomping its prey. 

Baylor Bears: Claw. However you think a claw should look when represented by the human hand, that’s Baylor’s version.

Clemson Tigers: Paw. Close all fingers and cross thumb over them. Face this modified fist away from you and make a motion like knocking on a neighbor’s door. Now shout, “Give ‘em the paw!” Try not to look embarrassed.

Texas Tech Red Raiders: Sun’s Up, Guns Up! Hold both arms above the head, index fingers and thumbs extended, 90 degrees from each other, in the form of a cute little pistol. Think of a fully apoplectic Yosemite Sam. Symbolizes celebratory shooting, because nothing says touchdown like pretend gunfire.

Arizona State Sun Devils: Extend index and middle fingers and pinky, laying your thumb over your ring finger, turning your hand into a three-fingered pitchfork. Like what the devil carries. The Sun Devil. Get it?

Hawaii Rainbow Warriors: Shaka sign aka “Hang Loose.” Curl index, middle and ring fingers into you palm and extend thumb and pinky away, then give it an insouciant little shake. You can pretty much see every tourist on a Hawaiian vacation doing some form of this one. Oh, and “Mahalo.”

Kansas State Wildcats: Utilizing the whole hand, extend pinky, ring and middle fingers to form a W, and then bend the index finger and thumb to form a C. And, voila, you have “WC” – Wildcats. Though it could be Water Cans. Or Weasel Crank. Or Want Cookie. But Wildcats makes more sense.

05/04/18

News and Communications Staff

universitycommunications@csus.edu

Sacramento State’s News and Communications team writes and shares stories about the University, its students, faculty, and alumni, revealing the accomplishments, achievements and milestones that characterize its standing as an educational leader and an important community center. The department’s writers, editors and public relations personnel look across the broad spectrum of the campus and the people who thrive here to support the University’s mission