Cardinals’ hand signal gaining ground

Lisa Alvarenga
Lisa Alvarenga

By Lisa Alvarenga


Everyone knows “Hook ‘em Horns.”

You might even be familiar with the “Guns Up” slogan.

But did you know the Cardinals have their own hand sign now at the University of the Incarnate Word?

Hand slogans have been used for decades in sports to show affiliation and sometimes to even taunt opposing teams, the most popular of all being the “Hook ‘em Horns” gesture that is known nationally. The iconic gesture dates back to the 1930s when it was initially associated with the University of Minnesota and didn’t make its way to Texas until 1955 when a cheerleader introduced it to the basketball team. From then on it became popular and other schools began to develop their own hand signals.

Could there be deeper meaning to the usage of hand signals? These hand gestures become iconic and thus are almost like branding, a marketing term that describes a certain object, symbol, phrase or design used to identify a certain marketable group.

UIW is currently aiming to increase enrollment numbers and has even joined Division I athletics in order to gain more attention. With an increased sports presence a new hand gesture is gaining ground at sports events.

There’s simplicity to using a hang slogan. It’s easily remembered, recognizable and delivers a message: the user’s affiliation and devotion to the school/sports team associated with the hand gesture. When it gains an iconic status, then there begins a buzz about the school. Increased popularity would lead to an increase in enrollment numbers, all stemming from a hand slogan.

At UIW, the Cardinals’ hand signal is gaining use and popularity.

“It’s kinda cool,” former UIW cheerleader Kyle Wolf said about the gesture.

“When you pinch your fingers it gives the bird a mean look. That just looks real badass. I was a cheerleader for a long time and I used to use it all the time. Whenever I used it, everyone else would, too.”

However, Ivan R. Pérez, operations manager at UIWtv, said he wasn’t sure what bird he was looking at when he first noticed students using it.

“Initially I thought it was a rooster,” Pérez said. “Isn’t it more of a roadrunner than a cardinal? It’s not my favorite Cardinal representation. I’ve seen it used more online.”

So while we have completely different and valid views on the hand signal, can it really help kick off UIW as a popular university? Is a hand slogan necessary or should UIW move on to perhaps add a verbal slogan such as Texas A&M’s “Gig ‘em!” the Aggies use?

On the possibility of developing a slogan, Wolf said, “It should (help). Without a doubt, just like ‘Hook ‘em horns.’ ”

“I think if the athletics kick off, yes,” Pérez said. “It’ll be our longhorn. If we get more student involvement at those games and activities, it’ll kick off. It’ll be something.”


E-mail Alvarenga at

Jenifer Jaffe

UIW Editor 2014-15

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