Stephen F. Austin State University


Axe 'em, Jacks!

September 20, 2012 - Kayli Head
What has now become a popular symbol of Lumberjack identity, the "Axe 'em, Jacks" hand sign originated more than 30 years ago as an attempt by a group of cheerleaders to boost school spirit and increase pride at SFA.
Recognizing a lag in school spirit, the SFA cheerleaders of 1979-80 set out to establish a hand symbol like those of larger universities in hopes of unifying the student body and creating enthusiasm on campus. And so, "the axe" was born.

The collaborative brainchild of several cheerleaders, the symbol initially started with two fingers forming an axe. The thumb was added to not only make the symbol more unique, but also to form an "L" and a "J" when held side by side. The symbol also has been interpreted as the shape of Texas with two fingers pointed to Nacogdoches, but most of the originators of the hand symbol say it's simply an axe.

The "Axe 'em Jacks" symbol was introduced at the first pep rally of the season in the fall of 1979 and was instantly embraced by the student body. Since then, it has become the definitive symbol of pride to generations of Lumberjacks.

Members of the 1979 squad recently held a reunion on campus to catch up and laugh over old yearbook photos. During their visit, the alumni stood, awestruck, as they looked at the newest publications showing hundreds of SFA students wielding their symbol of pride. They also met with the current cheer squads, who have continued the legacy of excellence with more than a dozen national championships.

"It was gratifying to see the tradition being continued," said Marcus Lee, who was a member of the squad in 1980 and 1981. "To know that we were part of establishing a spirit icon and culture at SFA means so much to us."