As a Cougar sports fan, Will Martin (’01 Comm.) felt something was missing for supporters of Washington State University.

WSU has no hand sign.

A man in a Washington State University hat and shirt holds up his hand in a W sign
Will Martin demonstrates his “W” hand sign to represent Washington State University.
Courtesy Will Martin)

“Dozens of other universities have a unique, nonverbal way for their supporters to connect instantly,” Martin says. “Take the Red River Rivalry between the Texas Longhorns and the Oklahoma Sooners, for example. UT supporters proudly display their Hook ’em Horns hand sign, while OU fans turn the hand sign upside down in a show of poor sportsmanship.”

From the pitchfork sign of Arizona State University to the two-handed “O” of the University of Oregon, devoted fans can quickly show off their school pride.

Martin wanted a way to say “Go Cougs” with a simple gesture and forge an instant connection with other WSU fans. He took matters into his own hands and developed a new sign.

The sign simulates a “W” with index and pinky finger extended and the thumb extended behind the other fingers.

He verified that the new WSU sign didn’t have another meaning by sending a video to the American Sign Language Teacher Association (ASLTA). ASLTA Secretary Rhonda Jennings-Arey wrote, “If you move it in a circular motion, it will mean waitress/waiter. Other than that, nothing.”

Martin is excited for others to start using it. “Out of love for the special bond shared by Cougs everywhere, I created a hand sign for WSU supporters to use forever,” Martin says.

Man in WSU cap and shirt showing his WSU Cougar hand sign

Martin’s WSU Coug hand sign


Learn more

Video: Say “Go Cougs” in sign language (from the archives)