Waco man reminisces on creating official TCU Horned Frogs hand sign as football team plays for a national championship
WACO, Texas (KWTX) - A Central Texas man will be cheering on TCU from Waco as the Horned Frogs have their first appearance in the College Football Playoff National Championship game, and while he watches, he’ll be holding up the Horned Frogs hand signal, along with tens of thousands of other fans around the world, that he invented.
Chad Schrotel, 62, came up with the now trademarked official hand signal of TCU, which looks like a peace sign with slightly curled fingers, in the front yard of his grandmother’s home on Ridgeview Drive in Waco in 1979.
Schrotel was a TCU cheerleader at the time and had taken the squad to his grandmother’s house to practice for a week as they prepared for cheer camp in Tennessee.
“My grandmother had a big property. We were going to the University of Tennessee for cheer camp, and I sat down, and I went, ‘guys, everybody in the Southwest Conference has a hand sign but us,’” Schrotel recalled.
“Houston had one. Rice even had one, Baylor, UT Longhorns, Texas Tech, Gig’ Em. I mean, everybody had one, and I felt like there was just something missing.”
Schrotel said the group experimented with different hand signals before agreeing on his suggestion.
“We sat around and how do you figure out a horned frog?” he recalled in laughter. “We just started contorting, and then I went, ‘wait, what about this?’ and people went ‘like that?’ and I said ‘no, no, no horned frogs, their horns are shorter.’”
Schrotel said the squad never set out with the idea of creating a now internationally recognized signal but did feel behind other universities without one.
The University of Texas, for instance, had the “Hook ‘Em Horns” sign since 1955 and A&M fans proudly showcased the “Gig ‘Em” thumbs up since 1930.
Schrotel said TCU’s football team at the time didn’t leave fans much to cheer about, but he hoped a hand signal would boost school spirit.
The Horned Frogs only won one conference football game in 1979 and just two games the previous season.
Once the cheerleaders returned to campus from Waco, they introduced the hand signal to a group of students called the Spirit Wranglers and to the band.
But it wasn’t until students began to show up a more successful basketball team that the gesture was adopted.
Today, the “Go Frogs” hand signal is part of every student’s experience at TCU and has been trademarked by the school.
The University’s website even gives Schrotel the credit for the tradition.
Schrotel, a die-hard Horned Frogs fan, said he’s thrilled to watch the Frogs in the biggest game of college football Monday night.
“You’re always worried about the big guys knocking you out, but I’m proud of our guys. We’re hanging in there. We’re doing a good job,” he said.
And even though he wasn’t able to travel to California to cheer on his alma mater in person, he’ll be holding up the nearly 44-year-old sign he first made in his grandmother’s front yard with pride.
“It’s not so much who invented it or why we invented it, but it is so cool to see a stand full of people holding up the Horned Frogs’ sign,” Schrotel said.
“I take some pride in that.”
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