Spirit squad sparks new movement with “The Eagle” hand sign

Tennessee Tech’s Spirit Programs Coordinator Jordan Benedict is starting a new hand sign movement at Tech. The sign, called “the Eagle,” involves sticking out your thumb and little finger horizontally, representing an eagle in flight. The phrase “wings up” is a cue for audiences to hold up the sign.

Benedict is also the head coach of the Cheerleading Squad and Dance Team. The hand sign is one of many changes Benedict is enacting since her move to Tech in July from a similar coaching position at Temple University. She said her goal is to boost school pride, participation at sporting events and student involvement in general.

“We’re really trying to start a lot of new traditions,” Benedict said, “things people will come to games and expect to do. At (the University of) Alabama, they have ‘Roll Tide Roll,’ that’s a tradition, and we’re trying to do something similar.”

Benedict is also looking to encourage students to sit in designated student sections to have a more organized and involved crowd. The student section at basketball and football games is called the “Nest,” and the students are collectively called the “Flock.”

“I think it’s important with that student section to give them an identity, so it’s something they feel a part of,” said Benedict. “The student section really is an extension of whatever team is playing, so it’s important that they have that team name.”

At the Oct. 17 football game against Jacksonville State, Benedict sent a few cheerleaders into the Flock to teach them the “Eagle” and a few cheers so they can be more involved in cheering on the football team.

“When you do the ‘wings up,’ it’s like a rally point,” Benedict said. “It supports the football team, and it also really gets the crowd into the game atmosphere, and that’s my biggest thing.”

“I like the ‘Eagle,’” said freshman Roque Hammack, “because you can kinda fist pump it.”

“I think it’s kinda stupid,” Taylor Weiss said. “But if a whole crowd is doing it, it won’t be so bad.”

Benedict is also using social media to raise awareness of new movements and increase student involvement. She created the “#WingsUpWednesdays” movement on Twitter to encourage students to tweet a picture of themselves holding up the “Eagle” and include the hashtag. Benedict also posts a picture every Tuesday of a cheerleader or dancer with their “wings up” along with a quote about why they are proud to attend Tech, with the hashtag “#TechPrideTuesdays.”

“This is a big school; we should be having a lot more students at games than what we currently have,” said Benedict. “Especially going into basketball season, the Hoop is beautiful; all the seating was redone and everything. ( ”

But Benedict said she is excited to be at Tech and work with the dance team, mascots and spirit squad.

“Tech is known in the cheerleading community to have strong support from the school which was a major draw for me,” said Benedict. “I also really liked how the Tech community felt like a family; it has been a really refreshing change for me to be in an environment that is really supportive of the spirit squad.”