Winter 2008
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Related Articles:
Horned Frog defined | Baptism by Frog | Frog of ages

Sign language

More than 20 years after the tradition got started, calls still come ... "What is that curled-up-fingers thing people are doing?"

by Nancy Bartosek

It happens at the end of every football game: as the first note of the Alma Mater rings out, fans rise and hands go up, fingers curled just so and waving regally. It's the sign of the Frog, a hand sign tradition that dates back to 1980.

Back then, head cheerleader Chad Schrotel '82 and others decided a hand signal for the Frogs would be a great way to show solidarity and promote Frog spirit. They settled on the curled fingers salute, at left, because the protruding knuckles resembled the horns on a frog. (Other stories suggest the curled finger sign emanated from the hand position one uses to "frog" someone with a quick jab to the arm or leg.)

It took a while to catch on. They taught it to the incoming freshmen at Orientation, they flashed it at alumni gatherings and they got the Wranglers, a now-defunct spirit group, to wave it en masse at the games.

It was good timing. SuperFrog made a grand entrance that year and the basketball team adopted the Killer Frog moniker. While not the oldest mascot hand sign in the nation, it now is part of the Frog tradition that includes "Riff Ram Bah Zoo," which numbers among the oldest cheers in the nation.

A side note about college traditions: During the 1930 football game between TCU and Texas A&M, one spirited Aggie began to holler "Gig 'em Aggies," using a common frog hunting term. While the call stuck, it didn't help that year . . . the Frogs won, 3-0. Interestingly enough, the introduction of the UT horns hand sign also corresponded with a TCU game in 1955. Again, the Frogs won, 47-20.