Florida State University’s “Tomahawk Chop” and the University of Florida’s “Gator Chomp” are the hand signs that fans throw up during sports games involving their teams. FAU has its own sign as well and it’s called “Owl Fingers.” The reason this tradition might not be as widespread as other Florida universities is because it dates back to 2002.
The credit for this achievement goes to the FAU Dance Coach, Anissa Costello, and former director of the PrOWLers, Rick Smith. The FAU PrOWLers are a group that started at a 2002 FAU basketball game, where a bunch of energetic students rallied around the team. They were dubbed the PrOWLers by the student government and now show up at FAU athletic games to show their support.
During the 2002 football season, Costello and Smith decided that something more needed to be done, as Smith said, “to raise school spirit.”
Thus, the “Owl Fingers” sign was born.
Student Body Vice President Robert Huffman said “the tradition of ‘Owl Fingers’ has quickly spread throughout the student body and I think will continue to be contagious among FAU once we open our new football stadium.”
Rick Smith actually designed the sign to spell out the word “owl.” The index finger and thumb are the “O,” the middle, ring and pinky are the “W,” and the outside of your pinky on the side of your hand is the “L.” Smith, who graduated in 2007, noted that in the beginning people would laugh at them.
“At first people were wondering what we were doing,” said Smith.
“Students have started to use ‘Owl Fingers’ not only at sporting events, but at moments such as graduation, club competitions and even as they stroll through the Breezeway,” Huffman says.
But, it seems that the “Owl fingers” fire didn’t spread immediately after its conception. The main group that fanned the flame was the PrOWLers, who would proudly show the sign at every game.
It wasn’t until a televised game in 2006 that Smith remembers seeing crowds of people doing it. He doesn’t remember the exact game, but he does remember the feeling of seeing his idea being used en masse.
“It was the first time I saw a whole stadium stand up and do it,” said Smith. “It’s really cool I was a part of it and started it.”
Huffman said “creating traditions is one of the unique opportunities that FAU has to offer and with our passionate students, I see school spirit only get better and better.”
For more information or to become a member of the PrOWLers, call 561-297-1248 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
These are what some students around campus said when asked where they first saw “Owl Fingers”
“I’ve never heard of it before, but then I’m unknown to the sports realm of the campus.”
Edward Vandamas, geology, senior
“What is that? I’ve never heard of that before.”
Sarah Gilliard, biology, senior
“It sounds like something Coyote Jacks is considering putting on the menu.”
Justin Kane, English, senior
“I saw it in pictures but I didn’t know what it was called.”
Michael Bienuenu, biology, junior